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. 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: