'I have little sense of what I look like': Legally blind teenager takes on beauty queens in bid for Miss Florida title
17:02 GMT, 9 July 2012
17:02 GMT, 9 July 2012
An 18-year-old beauty queen who is competing in the up-coming Miss Florida USA competition, has admitted she is legally blind.
Connor Boss will be wearing the Miss Delray Beach sash on Saturday night when she competes against hundreds of other girls for the title as the first legally blind contestant in pageant history.
The beauty queen has Stargardt's disease, a retina-ravaging disorder that presented
itself when she was just age eight, turning her previously 20/20 vision into 2400/2600
vision, rendering the world a hazy blur.
Defying all odds: Connor Boss, 18, will be wearing the Miss Delray Beach sash on Saturday night when she competes against hundreds of other girls for the title – the first legally blind contestant in pageant history
The teenager can't drive a car, but
said she excelled at school with the help of special magnifiers,
enlarged worksheets, books on CD and having tests read to her.
However, she admits she has a lot of trouble with stairs.
For the title of Miss Florida, the winner of which represents the state in the Miss USA judging, the Royal Palm Beach resident must walk down a staircase, and along a predetermined pattern to hit certain marks onstage.
Miss Boss, who navigates her way through the pageant largely by sound and memory, said she will get extra rehearsal time to count out her steps onstage, and says she isn't concerned how it might affect her poise.
At last year's Miss Florida USA
pageant, which she finished as second runner-up in the teen category,
said she stumbled on the stairs in the swimsuit segment.
stairs blend together for the teenager, unless there is bright-colored
tape on the edge of each step, and although she doesn't know what the
stage set-up will be this year, she won't let her lack of vision stop
Legally blind: The beauty queen has Stargardt's disease, a retina-ravaging disorder that presented itself when she was just age eight, turning her previously 20/20 vision into 2400/2600 vision
She told the Sun Sentinel: 'I'm just gonna do it. I'm gonna do it to it!'
Miss Florida USA executive producer, Grant Gravitt, said she never mentions her handicap.
Blind beauty queen: Miss Boss (left) navigates her way through the pageant largely by sound and memory
'She doesn't play that card. You will never hear her mention that. She's just cool, cool. Very inspirational.'
Her mother, Traci Boss, agreed, saying: 'She does not want sympathy from people. She does not want to be treated differently'.
She explained that she hopes her daughter's story is
an antidote to the 'terrible stereotype' of beauty pageants focusing exclusively on visual superficiality.
'She has overcome every obstacle. If [her pageant appearance] inspires people, that's even better,' her mother added.
beauty queen, who sees bodies as blurry shapes, says she has 'little sense'
of what she looks like, and must judge people by their
talk pageant-y, but I like to think that beauty comes from within. It's
important to exude that, to try to be kind to everyone.'
Miss Boss admits, however, that she is yet to overcome every obstacle.
'I walk into the men's bathroom all the time. All the time.
'Usually, by the time I figure it out, it's “Whoops! Sorry!” People think I'm crazy.' she laughed.
at Bailey Hall, the Miss Florida USA pageant will be televised around
the state Saturday night at 8pm, including WPLG and WTVK.