This time with glasses on

Marilyn Monroe in glasses (How to Marry a Millionaire)

There are moments in life which mean nothing to one person and can crush the life of others. It can be just a phrase, a gesture, an it-means-nothing remark. After that experience, however brief or meaningless, your life will never be the same as the recollection of this moment will start being so natural that you stop remembering that life existed up to that point.

It happened to me on several occasions. I am referring to wearing prescription glasses. I wasn’t bullied as such at school for wearing those – admittedly when I look back at my 9-year-old self (this is the moment when I first put on my specs) I think, Gawd, I look like an imbecile in those frames – how did I ever think they were OKAY to wear. But then I realise that I was just nine. All I cared about at that time was running through meadows and fields. Something I care about deeply right until this day.

My Harry Potter-esque frames of the glorious 90s converted into the noughties secretary-style glasses. The rounded neutral metal frames made me look somewhat geeky, a look I was not against of back then. After all, they gave out the illusion that I was, you know, kind of bright. This after all culminated in me getting straight As in my final year diploma.

Then there were the Ugly Betties. The pair America Ferrera wore when she “grew” into a beautiful swan – square shaped black plastic frames with a red effect on the inside. I heard comment after comment how smart I looked when I had those on. Someone even said I was transforming to a different person when I put those on; from sultry party girl to Dexter. All I needed now was a Laboratory.

And it was exactly when I wore the Ugly Betties/Dexters that my life changed by (what I drilled in my head as) an irrelevant remark which to me at the time was anything but. Living the student/houseshare life at the time, I hurriedly mopped the floor once, not really caring much about it as I was due to go out. With the floors still wet, some started theatrically walking on it in dirty shoes, making sure I saw the gesture. The comment that lasted merely 3 seconds hurt me so deeply as it was disturbing as it was lowering. It pointed out to something that has been deteriorating in me since that wretched age nine that I had zero control over – my vision. “Maybe you should mop it once more and this time with your glasses on?” was the moment in time that has dwarfed my confidence and with it, me.

I crazily started buying contacts. I would refuse to have anything to do with specs. I felt like the lesser person when wearing them. The days when I wore glasses were my lesser days. The worse days. The days that were so uneventful, it was okay for me to look like something that the cat dragged in. And I lived like that for years. Until I decided to be better than that.

Getting over that brief moment in time took a very long while. I am still not entirely over it. One might argue that I was over-reacting. I wasn’t. In the days when consumers are constantly looking at screens of billboards, computers, tablets, smartphones – vision is ever important. And absolutely impossible to have perfect. Unless it has reached the point where it won’t get any worse as then one has an option of getting eye surgery done. Mine still has some downgrading to do.

That’s when I went in to the opticians to discover that I am roughly half blind. And so I looked through a myriad of different brands and specs to find the ones which I wouldn’t wear for lesser days. Simply because I wouldn’t have lesser days. There wasn’t any lesser me, uneventful days, boring hours. There was only me in absolutely amazing glasses which made people with perfect visions dream of half blindness only to rock them at least with half of the pizzazz that I possessed.

Now that didn’t exactly happen. Step by step I began feeling that hey, this is me – my specs and everything and there’s nothing geeky in me whatsoever. But not feeling geeky doesn’t quite equal to feeling generally beautiful.Β  I would still feel worse sometimes wearing my latest investment – the Secretaries. The black slightly cat-eye framed Chanel specs which can even transform an all-round nerd into a rather fetching secretary of the early 50s. And yet from time to time I would still say, no, I look like crap in them. This pushed my mother to comment: “dear daughter, only you can wear Chanel and think you are something lesser, most people are vice versa.”

And she was right. This is when I realised – I felt I was worse than most of the population but I sure as hell didn’t look lesser. Looking inside I still can’t believe I could be so vulnerable to such a brief comment. Call me fat, chubby, ugly or even four eyes – and it won’t bother me a bit. But this was an X-marks-the-spot moment in the curve of my self-perception.

Slowly, I am snapping out of it. Some outfits wouldn’t be complete without my Secretaries, some would be better off with a pair of sunnies or indeed nothing. I managed to find harmony, some sort a middle ground which makes sense in my head – and now I see, despite my ever-deteriorating vision, that that it’s such a good place to be.

If there was a brief encounter that had hurt you in anyway, just know that it’s important to find this comfort zone, this normal state of being where you are fine, glasses, braces, face mask, curlers, oversized clothing, shapewear – whatever you might be wearing. It’s okay. You’re okay.

I’ll make sure I mop the floor wearing all of the above or one at a time, starting with “once more and this time with glasses on”.


For my four-eyed fellows, a few fantastic frame fantasies:


Dsquared2 Spring-Summer-2011-Eyewear capaignTom-Ford-eyewear-fall-2010 campaign



  1. I only hit wearing frames when I was 22 but even then, I would still leave them in their case because I felt unaccustomed with a foreign object on my bridge. Fortunately, for an asian my nose bridge is high (thanks to mah’jamaican great-great-grammie-o) so I do not have the problem of them slipping down my nose and having to do that stupid gesture of pushing it up frequently ~ lol!
    But after more than a decade of working with the computer everyday for more than 12 hours a day, my vision is getting real bad. I am now officially near-sighted and need my frames to look at menu boards.
    I typically go for the classics ~ I love a sleek 50’s black frame, no thick sides please and nicely squared lens area πŸ˜€
    You on the other hand, would look sexy in those catty frames πŸ˜‰ XO JR

    • Look at you and your exotic roots! I keep pushing my glasses up as well – the whole time! So annoying!

      The worst thing is when I go to the pool/sauna and have to time my sauna stays/swims as I can’t see the time on the clocks on the wall. SO yes, i ask the guard to tell me time, which makes me feel like such an old hag! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  2. My little one got glasses last year and being full of verve, she choose a retro cat-eye frame with sparkle. Very 50’s librarian. She loves them, but like you she cares way more about running in fields and riding her bike. Thanks for sharing your very personal story. People have no idea how their little comments and judgements can deeply affect us.
    x Laura

  3. I can sympathise with so much of this post. At school I wore these horrible round rimmed brass type glasses, I then would rather go blind at uni than my wear them and I also went through the stage of wearing contacts a lot. I think the trick to learning to love glasses is finding the perfect pair for your face – I have some from Oliver Peoples I adore. I also have my eye on a Prada pair in jet black – I’m off to the opticians for an eye test just this afternoon so I will report back!

    • I hope you get to have those Pradas! You’re right, the trick is to love your face wearing the specs. Easier said than done! I sure hope your vision improved, it’s sometimes so depressing to hear, “oh it’s actually gotten worse but no worries that was likely to happen anyway”. Boo. xx

  4. Love this post. It just made me think back about my experiences with glasses. I got thin square frames at first that weren’t too chic since I didn’t wear them often and just opted for the cheapest pair. Then I got into high school and started going more with the trends, so I got some thick frames (which were super in at the time). Now, I find that I’ve been wanting to sport the cat-eyes or nerd glasses, though they’re kind of hard to find.


  5. Thank you for posting this. I had a lazy eye till I was 2 and then I had an operation to get it fixed, but they told us that my eye would eventually deteriorate and so they have, I’ve had glasses since I was 12 so I was quite lucky to have lasted that long! But I always feel so self conscious wearing my glasses. And I don’t like my glasses either, unfortunately they’re not Chanel, just spindly black ones – ah well, they’ll be a future investment for me!

    ~Hannah xx


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