When was the last time you saw a celebrity on the red carpet sporting eyeglasses? What about a magazine cover? In movies, she’s all that because she took her glasses off. Mia Thermopolis wears glasses. Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi doesn’t. Toula Portokalos took off her glasses and coincidentally, got the guy soon after. I’ve worn glasses since the fifth grade. I made the switch to contact lenses as soon as I could because Hollywood made me think that glasses aren’t something a beautiful person wears.
Needing a prescription isn’t rare: 164 million Americans wear glasses. So, why am I embarrassed to wear glasses on nights out or at formal events? The decision to wear glasses or not should be about comfort, not what society deems attractive.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve pushed myself to feel uncomfortable on purpose. Contacts started drying my eyes out, so I forced myself to wear glasses more often. I remember one of my high school teachers started to wear Ray-Ban Wayfarers as glasses. It was different. I remember thinking that maybe getting more fashionable frames would make a difference. I found a pair of big, round Dior glasses that harkened back to the styles of the ’80s. My family thought they were too big, but I felt daring. My glasses became part of my style, my aesthetic. Every year since then, I’ll try to find an interesting pair of glasses that suit my face. I’ve had metal, green, plastic, blue, gold, tortoise. I’ve tried different brands and price ranges, from Prada to EyeBuyDirect to Kirkland.
10 years later, I’ve made progress with how I see myself with glasses (no pun intended, I think). I rarely wear contacts now, with a supply lasting me months. Still, on Friday nights, when I dress up to go out with friends, or on Wednesday mornings when I’m a broadcast journalist on live television, I take my glasses off. I still have that inherent sense that I need contacts to look beautiful. Sometimes I tell myself it’s because I don’t want the glasses to cover my eyeshadow, or that they fog with my mask, or that they clash with my outfit. Truly, it’s because, despite all my attempts to change this, I still feel the most beautiful when I see my face without big round glasses covering it.
Just last month, my doctor mentioned Lasik surgery and I thought: wow. I could be pretty all the time. That made me realize I still have work to do on myself. I wear my glasses out to bars and fancy events more often now. It’s awkward and I don’t feel my best self with them. I haven’t entirely come to terms with feeling beautiful while wearing glasses, but each time it gets a little easier. I even get compliments on my frames, which reminds me that society may tell us glasses aren’t always appropriate or pretty, but that isn’t true. What is truly beautiful is being comfortable with my appearance, with or without plastic frames on my face.