No one ever called me that, at least to my face, but it was how I felt.
I remember the eye doctor had said that I would only need my glasses to see far away, like while in class to see the board from my seat. That meant that I’d only have to be a dork in class, so that made me a nerd. The youthful brain isn’t always a kind or rational place, but I tried to hold on to any shred of cool I could.
But by the following year I discovered that I’d need to wear my glasses a lot more frequently than just in class. It was during gym class and the coach had us all spread out just a little more than arms length apart then had us sit down. My friend in the row in front and one person over turned her head and started talking to me. You know, that whisper talk where she was putting most of her effort into enunciating her lip movements so I could read them.
I pretended that she wasn’t making any sense and should turn around before the coach caught her and gave us both detention or something. The truth was I couldn’t see her face clearly. It looked like a flesh colored blob with fuzzy dark spots where her eyes and mouth should have been. I cried that night at home telling my mom who told me what I already knew: I’d have to wear my glasses all the time.
I was devastated. Like the teen years weren’t awkward enough, now I was going to be a four-eyed dork. I tried every kind of frame available to minimize the impact from the thinnest wire frames to the clearest plastic frames, but every year when they rechecked my eyes my vision just got worse. This meant that my lenses got thicker assuring my complete and total dorkdom.
Fortunately I did get dates. Boys did like me, and I did have friends. Heck, I even went to prom with the coolest guy I knew. But I hated my glasses. I’d take them off for pictures if I had the chance.
It wasn’t until college that I got to wear contacts, and they were a pain in the butt even as they were liberating from my glasses that were so thick they weighed on my face leaving dents in my nose. My college years were also thankfully the time of revolutionary improvements for the visually impaired. Glasses became kind of a fashion accessory, and there were more options for the lens crafting. There was this thing called super light lenses.
You don’t even want to know what I was willing to pay to have them use super light lenses that cut the thickness of my glasses by half. I even learned that by sacrificing my peripheral vision and picking the more chic style of frames, the smaller ones, it forced them to cut down the lenses which also hid the thickness. Wire frames have long been out for me, leaving me with only plastic options. Now I can pull off the sexy librarian look instead of the Madam Trelawney (and even her glasses aren’t as thick as mine used to be).
I have matured (somewhat) and grown to become more confident. I now even embrace my glasses-wearing self to the point that I prefer my glasses over my contacts. My glasses have become my make up and my shield. I feel naked without them, as well as blind. As an avid reader and devout writer my vision is one of my most cherished abilities. I’d give up speaking before I risked my eye sight, which is why I’m too terrified to get LASIK eye surgery (though I do envy all those brave enough to do it).
If I could go back in time I’d let the girl I was know that life with glasses might not always be fun, things like 3D movies are a bitch, but glasses are not a fate worse than death. Most of the time people still hold with the stereotype that glasses make a person look smart rather than dorky. But above all, I’m thankful to live in a world where glasses exist so I can see faces and read lips from across the room.