is the BEST Description of me ever, guys. I don't know who this 'Starbuck' is, but I LIKE HER.
And that's how we come to meet Toph Bei Fong.
She's rude. She's crude. She's gross. She's hilarious
She picks her nose, she picks her toes, she swears (as well as she knows how), she spits, and she likes to maintain "a healthy coating of earth" at all times. Her favorite methods of expressing affection are punching arms and making up insulting nicknames ("Don't answer to twinkletoes! It's not manly!"). Someone in an earlier thread mentioned that she's like a larval/miniature Starbuck, and I can get on board with that – once she discovers the joys of sex and hard liquor, she's going to run some people into the ground. Perhaps literally. Because in addition to being twelve years old, tiny and blind, she's arguably the greatest earthbender alive.
It's this last that is both the reason and the result of the fact that her blindness isn't as debilitating as it otherwise might be. Unique among all the earthbenders of this world, earthbending isn't a mere tool or martial art to her, but an extension of her senses. She can actually "see" with earthbending.
Like Teiresias, Daredevil and other characters who've used their superpowers to compensate for their physical challenges, Toph's "vision" has its plusses and minuses in comparison to the normal version. She can "see" in 360 degrees and around corners, but if something isn't touching the ground (as Aang wasn't at Earth Rumble 6), it's invisible to her. Worse, if the surface she's standing on isn't earth or stone, her feet are as blind as her eyes, and even in the best of conditions she's illiterate (no Braille in this world). All in all, I'd call it a net negative, but she's so capable (and her unusual senses prove so useful so often) that the other characters often forget that her eyes don't work.
Just one problem: her parents had no idea about any of this. As far as they're concerned, she's the "tiny, blind and helpless" girl that they've hidden from the world (for her own protection, of course) for the last twelve years. When they find out what she's been up to, they're ready to restrict her movements even more
. When she runs away, they hire a couple of skilled and greedy earthbenders to go after her. Remember that, it's important later.