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.
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.
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.