‘People who wear glasses, without them they always look unfocused, vulnerable. Out in the open. A layer removed.’
– Lee Child, Killing Floor
Glasses are not a kink of mine. Whether someone does or doesn’t wear glasses has no impact on how attractive I find them. When there is such easy access to contact lenses or laser correction surgery, they could almost be considered to be a fashion accessory that suits some people better than others, like skinny jeans or empire line dresses, with a similarly superficial effect on my opinion of the wearer. Generally, if I want you, I want you, and glasses really don’t affect that.
But I’m writing about them because these opinions don’t apply to me. I don’t like my glasses. I have never looked back since I started wearing contact lenses, battling through dry eyes, ill fitting lenses and the indignity of being told that I was a lazy blinker, a cruel and unusual criticism, rather than just give in and wear my glasses again.
My dislike of glasses now is purely practical. I hate that blurring of my peripheral vision outside of the frames. I can’t stand how dirty they get, covered in smudged finger prints and dust. I am infuriated by how they steam up when moving from a cold to hot place, or when I open the oven, or drink a cup of tea. I can’t wear glasses in the rain as the drops obscuring my vision are too annoying. I can’t wear glasses when it’s sunny as I don’t have prescription sunglasses so have to squint or hide in the shade. I hate that I spend all day pushing them back up my nose; a nervous habit that I immediately lock back onto and still gesture to my naked face for days after I’ve gone back to contacts. Urgh, I really don’t like wearing glasses!
But my dislike wasn’t always so superficial. I started wearing glasses when I was 14, and I really didn’t care. Whether being the eldest or from going to an all girls school or just being a bit late noticing, I had no self awareness back then. I was still wearing hand-me-down clothes that my mother had picked out and jumping out of trees. I was still a child. It wasn’t until I was about 16 that my childish confidence began to waver. I didn’t dress as well as my friends, I wasn’t cool and, to top it all off, I wore glasses! Boys didn’t notice me; I felt like no one noticed me.
As that teenager struggling to find my identity, I felt lost behind them, hidden behind the frames. I remember marvelling that my boyfriend at the time had even seen me through the glasses, imagining that like Superman, I was unrecognisable, homogenous, plain. I couldn’t see past them, despite always doing that to others.
I started wearing contacts at 17, roughly at the same time as my awkward teenage insecurities faded. My logic knows that this is a coincidence; my self-confidence connects my glasses to feeling like I was invisible.
It does mean, however, that although wearing glasses has no kinky significance, they are not insignificant. Wearing contacts is part of my armour, along with heels and pretty dresses. It means that no one sees me in my glasses anymore so if you have, I am more comfortable with you than nearly everyone else. I don’t feel the need to hide anymore. Glasses now have significance because of their intimacy. And this isn’t an elaborate plea for compliments – I know I don’t look any worse, but I feel less. More vulnerable. More like that confused teenager again. And I won’t, or maybe can’t, feel like that if I can help it. I’d rather just wear my contacts and feel like myself.
So glasses do have a power over me, but only my glasses and only in my opinion of myself. On others, I am not nearly so judgemental…
Now a quick spot of self-promotion – by a wonderful coincidence, exactly a year ago today, I wrote a story about myopia, the medical term for being short-sighted, and how that vulnerability I feel without glasses can be kind of hot if you fancied reading some fiction…