• Tue, Dec 3 - 2:43 pm ET

Why I Hate Your Trendy, Ironic Glasses

the worst

seriously, the worst

To all of the waifish girls sporting script-free Buddy Holly glasses, to all the mall punks shoplifting plastic rainbow Hot Topic frames, and all the men trying valiantly to grow a beard to go along with your -.05 prescription lenses: I hate you. You and your elective eyewear make me boil with rage. You, with the stunning vintage frames from which you poked out the lenses, can go snuggle a porcupine. Yes, threats laced with prickly animals are just the kind of vitriol you will receive from a lifelong nerd who got her first pair of life-altering spectacles at age eight.

As an elementary school student, I took my style cues from Pepper Ann, Chuckie Finster, Winnie the Pooh, and other unattractive characters beloved for their whimsical mixed prints and zingy one liners rather than their good looks. I pined for long dark hair and skinny legs, but alas, it was not to be. Nothing but freckled chipmunk cheeks and bad bangs for this girl.

I got my first pair of glasses in third grade. They were pink mottled plastic with wire arms. Mottled plastic was very popular circa 1997. I returned to school the next day triumphant, my new specs giving even more joie de vivre to my JNCO jeans, red hair, and oversized Eeyore tee shirt (I would describe my overall look for third and fourth grade as Disney gangster chic). We had a tornado drill that day, and I distinctly remember leaping out from under the desk where I crouched to retrieve my new frames from my desk. I clutched them to my chest like a ginger-y gollum. Our school could collapse around my platform Skechers, but my glasses would be safe.

It took me roughly a week to realize these frames had the same timeless style as the neon rubber bands my hardwear-faced friends wore in their braces, that is, ABSOLUTELY ZERO. I suffered in them until I started a new school at eleven, and decided if I couldn’t be a willowy brunette I could at least get some contacts. But my secret need for glasses was always part of my geek cred.

And now, Manic Pixie Dream Girls and popular blondes who can see just fine have deigned to join Team Four Eyes. As awkward children, we were assured that someday the nerds would inherit the earth and hire our tormentors. And now, our tormentors mock us with trendy eyewear.

Enjoy it now, nerds.

Enjoy it now, nerds.

When oversized plastic eyewear became a “thing,” I could hardly believe it. I had spent the last decade surreptitiously dosing my eyeballs with Visine so I could keep my contacts in for 24 hours a day, avoiding the horror of being caught in my dorm hallway as the spectacled nerd I truly was. And then, I started to spot Ray-Bans and cat-eye specs all over campus. Selfies featuring duckface and pushup bras now had the added #nerd. I bet the guys that had to start shaving at age 13 to avoid being teased in gym felt much the same way when blonde fraternity brothers started participating in Movember.

It took me a while to get up the courage to rock a giant, ridiculous pair of glasses. Aside from my obvious childhood insecurities, there is the added problem of finding trendy glasses when you are truly vision impaired. Now, Warby Parker and Bonlook have adorable, reasonably cheap styles and are superbly accommodating of bifocal and heavy-duty lenses, but a strong script will still cost you more. I am currently rocking an off-brand pair that I love (shout-out eyebuydirect.com), and anxiously awaiting my Bonnie and Clyde frame from Bonlook. I will celebrate them with dorky selfies like everyone else, and embrace the glory that is being able to see without sticky vinyl pressed up against my cornea all the livelong day.

Bonnie and Clyde, Bonlook.com

Bonnie and Clyde, Bonlook.com

But I will hold on to my rage, because I know that some day in the not-so-distant future, “statement glasses” will just be one more tired trend. And while the Manic Pixies drop their spectacles at Goodwill with their high-heeled oxfords and oversized sweaters, and my current crushes start shaving their beards, I will return to the contact-wearing shadows.

Currently rocking a hyper-trendy frame? Show me in the comments! Recommendations are always welcome.

You can reach this post's author, Mandie Williams, on twitter.
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  • Lindsey Conklin

    I love your glasses!! Also, Pepper Ann was the best.

  • Anne Marie Hawkins

    Seriously! I got my glasses when I was only 7. When my little brother started wearing fake glasses and Mr. Rodgers cardigans, I wanted to punch him in the face.

  • Joanna Rafael

    This whole time I just assumed everyone’s glasses were real. Do people think I’m a trendy fraud for wearing glasses when I drive a car and go to the movies?

  • Eileen

    You try needing glasses – but only for driving and going to the movies (me too, Joanna), so you don’t actually want contacts – and being Asian. The trendier glasses get, the more options those of us with flat noses have!

    Although honestly when I was in middle school I loved having glasses and braces. Glasses helped me read the chalkboard, and braces made my teeth straight. Hell, half the most popular kids wore glasses, and all of them wore braces.

    • Mandie

      I was totally guilty of wanting braces. All the cool kids would swap rubber bands and I was so. jealous.

  • Haley

    i got these really nice ray ban glasses my senior year in high school and people were constantly asking me if they were fake because a girl in my grade had fake huge glasses and people wore those damn 3D glasses. yeah. the inch thick lenses and blind as shitness is all an act guys. i totally can read something a foot away i lied sorry. probably the oversized sweaters and cardigans don’t help but they’re really just too comfy if the trend ever dies i’ll be that out of the loop crazy still wearing them

  • anna

    I feel you. I spent half of my life wishing for glasses, yes, because I thought they were cute and fit into my look.
    But, in my senior year of high school, all of a sudden my vintage clothes and doc martens began to be complimented. People wanted to know my opinion on the Salinger books I carried. My pre-occupation with little known early punk bands was applauded.
    All the things I had been teased for my entire life were suddenly in, and I was able to enjoy it for all of a semester. Then I started college and no one knew I wasn’t just part of the trend.
    Much to my horror, I realized i was the first hipster: I liked all these things and did these things totally un-ironically.

    • Claire

      you can’t be a hipster without the irony.

    • gemma_sanji

      very untrue!

    • Sarah

      Hipsters like the things they like but it’s ironic they like them.
      It’s a very special art

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve had bad eyes FOREVER (glasses at 3 and contacts since I was 9) and because my prescription always hovered around a healthy -15, I could never get trendy frames because the lenses were too thick. I wore contacts basically all the time anyhow, but still, I coveted those trendy plastic frames! Thanks to some recent changes, I now wear very weak prescription glasses over contacts for distance vision, and I can get ANY FRAME I WANT. It’s glorious. I have cat-eye marbled frames coming in soon!

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Wait, seriously? I had the exact same stepping marks. I got glasses (confetti-patterned ones!) at age 3 and contacts at age 9. I fucking hate wearing my glasses because they make my eyes look tiny because they’re so thick (I’m a -9.5). I WANT TO FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS FOR CHANGEEEE.

    • Elizabeth

      That’s exactly how I felt! I recommend getting cataract surgery. :) (Except not really, of course. It’s not awful, but I generally recommend against surgery when possible.)

    • MeghanM

      I thought I was virtually blind, but my prescription is a lowly -4.75. I can’t even imagine a -9.5 or -15 considering how little I can see without glasses/contacts.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      All I see are colors, it’s weird. But I’ve heard that people with -4.5 and stuff around those ranges still have horrible vision! I’m not sure what it’s like (I don’t remember) but I bet it is just as annoying :(

  • Jill

    Great article! I have glasses in my kindergarten picture. I loved my purple glasses in 5th and 6th grade, I was a prep. I got contacts in 7th grade and eventually soft contacts. Now I’m a full fledged adult, I NEVER wear my glasses out of the house. Even the super cool pair of Tom Ford “ray-ban” style tortoise shell frames that cost a small fortune. They look cute and cool but . . I think knowing I cannot see without glasses or contacts does not make being a nerd very chic. My 9 year old daughter prays for glasses each time she goes to the eye doc. And she wants braces too. She will be nerd chic one day,

  • Natasha Ivleva

    Being a person who got her first glasses when she was about nine years old (yeah, pink+blue plastic, it seems it was a universal trendy thing all around the world) and tried to avoid wearing them in all the possible situations at all costs until her eyesight became so bad it was impossible (note: walking around a big city with -4 on both eyes is definitely NOT a thing I’d suggest to anybody) I totally feel you.
    I still can’t believe there are so many people out there who voluntarily wear something on their faces without the actual need. I mean, people don’t walk with canes because they wanna be cool like Dr. House, do they?

  • Rose D.

    I rock a -8.5 in my right eye, -5.5 + astigmatism in my left. My gigantic nerd glasses are because smaller lenses make it too hard to see. However, since I grew up in the ’90′s, when all you had to do to make an ugly girl pretty was remove her glasses, and vice versa, I still feel self conscious. Even though my husband LOVES them, I still find myself wearing contacts when we go out so I can look “nice”.
    Also, I didn’t just have colored rubber bands, I had colored plastic braces. Purple and green. I thought I was the coolest.

  • Claire

    I had the same experience with horribly ugly glasses and painful contact experiences growing up-but four or so years ago when people stopped assuming glasses=ugo, and there actually cool AND affordable glasses started being available, things/life/self-esteem got SO much better.

    Drop the haterade, Mandie. You’re not losing out. No one is impressed by the hipster with no eye problems, and she/he will be mocked by all their friends when it comes out. And once the ‘trend’ is over? Keep wearing the glasses and be post-ironic aka the winner.

  • Kelly

    LOL, I’ve had people make nasty comments about my “fake” trendy glasses. My prescription is -5.5 and -6.something I can’t remember at the moment. I’m freaking blind. I love that chunky glasses are in because even the featherweight lenses at my prescription are thick as hell.

  • Colleen

    I still have nightmares about the HUGE glasses that covered half my face when I was younger. I will never embrace that “trend” again.

  • Angela

    I’ve been rocking big plastic glasses since I was two. Here’s a picture of me at 4 in glasses I’d wear today if they came in my size :) I’ve never tried contacts and never will, glasses are just a part of life for me and I’m fine with that.

  • Christna four eyes

    As Im reading this tears have formed in my -5.75 eyes. I swore once I started wearing contacts I would never don another pair of glasses. Age 7 I got my first pair of purple school boys in 1977. My daughter is 6, she just got her first pair of red with white polka dots. Unlke me at that age…..she loves her glasses. because ALL THE GIRLS WEAR GLASSES!!! wow

  • Laura J Jackson

    Yeah I had a cataract surgery and I had to wear glasses for a week time. I don’t like to wear glasses at least for a short time. I think everyone who approaches an eye hospital for cataract surgery will have to wear glasses for a short period of time.

  • Allen Harper

    Yeah I had a cataract surgery and I had to wear glasses for a week time. I don’t like to wear glasses at least for a short time. I think everyone who approaches an eye hospital for cataract surgery will have to wear glasses for a short period of time.