[Written By: Rachel Shnapp]
My relationship with glasses isn’t ground-breaking, or even slightly irregular. I started getting headaches in class when I was about 14, so my mum took me to the opticians and, low and behold, I had a very slight amount of short-sightedness in both eyes. As I’ve gotten older my eyes have gotten progressively worse, to the point where most of my classmates won’t have seen me without glasses on. Seven years later, however, and I still don’t think of myself as a glasses wearer.
For the first few years, I would avoid my glasses unless I was in class or watching T.V. – leaving me walking around in a slightly blurred-out world. This habit kept up into university, the only change being that I donned contacts for nights out so as to see a little bit better in dark, disorienting clubs. After my first month or so here I realised not being able to see people in the street wasn’t something that was actually helping me much, and so glasses became a daily situation. For the past few years it felt like I had given in – as my prescription worsened I became, to my dismay, a full-time glasses wearer. And this felt like a defeat. My dreams of being clear faced and carefree fell away overnight.
But why did this feel like a defeat? Why did I feel like I had given in to something when I started wearing my glasses everyday – which I needed to do? The fact that I am able to see an optician and acquire glasses so easily is something I should feel lucky about – there’s ‘1.1 billion people worldwide who can’t see properly simply because they need glasses.’ (Vision Aid Overseas). That’s 1/7 of the world’s population who don’t have that privilege, and on top of that, ‘two-thirds of those affected are women’. So why, if I’m so lucky on a global scale, did I feel so unlucky on a personal one?
I think this issue is bigger than just me. It comes down to the pressure put on young women to be appealing to men, an idea that is sold to them again and again through advertisement, media, and the people around them. It’s a well-documented issue that women are often told to be pretty, whereas men are told to be strong, independent, clever. And so, glasses, which enabled me to see better in class and learn more by allowing me to read the board, as well as getting rid of my headaches – quite literally allowing me to learn more – were to me something to dread.
So, when I knew my eyes had gotten worse and I would have to go and get new glasses, (which for me consists of going into my opticians about four times before finally choosing the least terrible pair), I decided to reflect on the feelings I had towards my glasses. Without them I wouldn’t really be able to study at university. Without them I would be plagued with migraines. Without them I wouldn’t be able to enjoy films or art or plays as much as I do. These are all wonderful things. And I’m so deep now that when I look in the mirror, my face makes much more sense with glasses on than without.
What I realised is the hatred I felt towards my glasses was based on things that no longer matter to me, and all the things I gain from having them are entirely positive. It’s simple logic that something that produces all good outcomes is, the majority of the time, good in itself. My hatred of glasses should have been left behind with the other childish fads I’ve shaken off throughout my life, such as believing I should wear make-up every-day, and my dislike of wearing baggy clothes. The idea that my glasses aren’t a positive make no sense to my life now, and, besides, I look pretty cute with my glasses on.