I spent most of my teen years wishing I had glasses (with tortoise-shell frames) so that I’d look sophisticated and intelligent. I now have to wear glasses all the time and have come to realise that appearing sophisticated and intelligent is overrated and that the grass was waaaaay greener on the other side. (At least I think it was, I can’t see that far anymore to check.) Glasses are annoying for many reasons - they don’t have windscreen wipers but do get rained on, they steam up when you’re washing dishes or pulling something out of the oven, and little boys seem to find ways of smudging the lenses less than a minute after you’ve finished meticulously cleaning them. All of these things – rain, steam, smudges – make it far harder to see than if you weren’t wearing glasses at all, which is both ironic and bothersome. Glasses are bothersome.
They’re also very hard to shop for when you’re short-sighted, because unless you think ahead and wear contact lenses, you can’t actually see what the pair of frames really looks like on you without either standing 10cm from the mirror (EMBARRASSING! And also not accurate, because how many people will be checking out your face from that distance?) or taking a photo (POSER! And also not accurate because you’ll be putting on your photo face and therefore not looking like everyday-you).
On top of all of these hassles, the pair you choose will say a great deal about who you are just by sitting astride your nose; you have to choose the frames that will not only send the right message for every day of your non-contacts-wearing life but match most of your wardrobe. It’s tough, I tells ya! In How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran explains that in today’s world a woman’s fashion choices are expected to say something about who she is, and that “When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today’” (from page 211). I have this problem with my glasses. I used to wear a pair of purple ones which were perfect in every way, but then one lunchtime at soccer training I stopped the ball with my face, which proved to be a very bad idea not only because it left my perfect purple spectacles in a crumpled, lens-less mess, but also because it really, really hurt.
To replace them, I went for a twofer deal and, after lots of trying on and photo-taking, decided on a sensible black pair for everyday wear, as well as a funky and chunky blue pair for the days that I was feeling particularly hip. This arrangement worked very well for me until my husband recently stepped on my black glasses, leaving me with no choice but to be funky EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s tiring, quite frankly, and unsustainable. I honestly don’t know how some people do it. I’m due for an updated eye test, but a new prescription will be bittersweet news: yes, I’ll be able to have sensible days once again, but first I’ll have to go through the drama of shops and hundreds of frames and photos and “What do you think?”s before finding the pair that best captures who I think I want to be for the next 3 years.
If only I could go back in time and wish for something a bazillion times better than issues with my eyesight...