This will probably shock approximately no one, but I wear glasses. I don’t need them once in a while to drive or watch TV; I need them to live. They’re the first thing I put on when I wake up and the last thing I take off when I go to bed. That said, I only have one pair. Most bespectacled folk I know have at least two pairs; I know one woman who has dozens. Over the course of my life, I’ve had a not-entirely affectionate view of my glasses, and have generally come to see them as an extension of my face rather than an accessory in their own right.
Considering that I got glasses (which I only wore part-time at first) when I was seven, it’s understandable that I’ve just sort of taken them for granted. My first pair (it was the ’80s after all) had circular bright pink frames. I kept them in a little case with smiley faces on it and a Velcro closure. Once I reached age 10, I switched to a brown wire-rimmed pair that would be the standard well into my college years. Oh! And at one point during middle school, I had bifocals. They weren’t entirely necessary, but as I recall my eye doctor thought they would force me to hold a book further away from my face when I read.
In college, once my friends got past the “polite stage” with me, they staged a bit of an intervention concerning my fashion sense, and my glasses were included in the condemning evidence. (It should be mentioned that I also pretty much wore the same sweatshirt and corduroys every day.) One of my roommates, who wore a cool plastic-framed pair, offered to take me glasses shopping. While the thick black frames she had were too big for my mousy little face, a thinner burgundy pair was just what the doctor ordered. Since then, I’ve tried a few new colors and shapes, but I’ve stuck with the same general look.
One perk of wearing glasses your whole life is that you’re much more aware of the shape of your own face than the perfect-sighted are. I’ve watched people try on pair after pair of sunglasses, not understanding why so many pairs “look weird” on them. I can tell just from looking at glasses (sunglasses or otherwise!) on the rack whether or not they’re going to make me look like a bug, or like they’re drooping down the sides of my face.
Still, there haven’t always been a lot of role models for us nerdy folk. Glasses-wearing women had to coast on Lisa Loeb for about a decade. I suppose that now there are now a few more prominent women who make their glasses a regular part of their look. Tina Fey comes to mind, of course, but how about Chloe Sevigny’s hipster frames? Cate Blanchett ditches them for the red carpet, but she can often be seen out and about or at events with glasses on. Not to mention that Sarah Palin’s lovely frameless pair is the one thing she and I can agree on. And remember how adorable Liv Tyler looked when she put on her specs to read the Teleprompter at the 2004 Oscars?
Many women (and men) have fun with their glasses, and have pairs to match different outfits and occasions. While that sounds fun, it also sounds exhausting for this fashion-challenged lady. Still, maybe there’s a happy medium. I guess it just feels like the stakes are higher with glasses than with other accessories when they really feel like they’re part of your face (I can’t be the only bespectacled gal whose friends think she looks strange without them on). Still, I’m considering buying a second pair that’s drastically different than my current one just so I can mix it up once in a while (but maybe I’ll wait until after my tax refund!).