Confessions Of A Speccy Kid

Rewinds to pre-pubescent self.
Let me count the ways my glasses fucked me over.

– The time I went to a disco in my Adidas pair (mint green with springs at the side) and they got muddled by the strobe lighting and essentially had a stroke, turning into freaky sepia coloured specs. This was because my mother had prudently opted for the 241 opticals-cum-sunnies option. They were meant to act as two pairs of glasses, instead they acted as neither and spent 99% of their time in the awkward sex-pest NHS-y coloured hinterland, which no-one ever comments on and definitely no-one teases me about still, this day.

– The time I went to another disco (lots of discos aged 11, lots of listening to inappropriate songs like Another Level’s I Wanna Get Freaky With You – sampler: let me lick you up and down// then I wanna lay you down) and I was wearing a chinoiserie print Marks & Spencer mini skirt over patchwork jeans and everyone set me up with the only boy wearing glasses. They didn’t actively set me up with him, they just all unconsciously assumed we would go for each other (we didn’t.) He looked like Tin Tin and he wasn’t my type. But when you have glasses, aged 11, you aren’t allowed a type. ‘Glasses’ is your type. Glasses is your both your social and aesthetic status. When you are 11, no-one who wears glasses is allowed to snog someone who doesn’t wear glasses. And yes, it was a bitter tyranny.

– The time – actually, every time – I partook in exercise and my glasses would steam up, as I begun to sweat, like I was having some sort of visual erotic reverie.

I ran the gauntlet of embarrassing four-eye experiences and I’ve experienced a whole host of gopping glasses. It wasn’t always the way <sighs>. When I was 8, I was actually excited to get glasses; like those doofuses who thinks that train tracks will be a lol a minute because you get to put teeny weeny coloured elastic bands betwixt your teeth, not realising that you won’t be able to extend your mouth for three years. I was the only person in my class with glasses – the only tiddly widdly with shitty eyesight – so for a brief while (I SAID, BRIEF) they were a supercool status symbol. People had to approach me like a rare dove during gymnastics, incase they fell off and broke. My first pair were The Lion King: red with tiny Simbas on the arms. Adorable, really.

Me

I wore glasses for five years, from the age of 8 to 13 and over the course of those years my relationship with them becameincrementally worse. When my mother finally released me from my torment and allowed me to get contact lenses (the first day I wore them I spent an hour and a half balancing the miniature squishy discs on my finger, trying to get them onto my eyeball without gagging) it was like I had been re-born.

That’s not an exaggeration. I got contact lenses the same week the first time I got daubed with honey highlights and also the same week that my mother purchased a pair of indigo-coloured clam-diggers and a fuchsia pink polo shirt from Gap for me (when Gap was the absolute ragiest of all the rages). When I strode onto the beach, to meet up with two of my best friends, it was all they could do but exhale softly and gasp, “the duckling has turned into a swan.” Yes, that actually happened. And yes, along with winning the creative writing prize aged 12, which convinced me I was nothing less than a young, female, contemporary Roald Dahl, it was the greatest moment of my life. For that brief moment, I was the swan.

Of course, it didn’t last. My highlights faded and everyone got used to my bald eye sockets and business resumed. I took my contact lenses for granted and used to see how many days in a row I could wear the same pair (they were daily.) I got to 5 days once without changing them, revelling in the fact that they had categorically suctioned themselves to my dehydrated pupils, before the nurse rushed into my GCSE art class – I’d unfathomably boasted about my triumph via e-mail, to my sister (I should have known my older sister would have sneaked) – and yanked me out of class and in turn, yanked my crispy contact lenses off my eyeballs. Who knows if 5 days is a record? It felt like it.

Contact lenses, as anyone knows, are a ballache. A few years back I was in an awful club stealing shots off the end of fake skis (I told you it was awful) and I was so drunk my contact lenses fell out of my eyes. Sprung right out, leaving me utterly blind (to anyone in the know, I was minus 7.) I had to literally feel my way out of the club and into a taxi and return home immediately, thus severing a potentially fun awful night in its mere genus.

After a lifetime of public suffering, it was nothing short of miraculous when I had my eyes lasered, 18 months ago. Lasik is a particularly revolting procedure – a surgeon pokes around in your eye, lifting up your ‘flap’ before lasering it – but still inordinately exciting. That was until I realised I couldn’t read the road signs and more importantly, the Sky menu from my sofa and it dawned upon me, with a literal fog of horror, that I was going to have to get glasses again. Oh the irony of needing glasses after two (I’d since returned) bouts of laser surgery! Alas, a common side-effect of laser surgery is a stigmatism and I had one in each eye.

It’s easy to feel despondent about the return to an accessory that marked you out as the bottom-feeder of pre-pubescent allure (just because you’re not having sex aged 12, doesn’t mean you don’t want to look like a teenager’s version of sexy. That included Calvin Klein pants showing out the top of your jeans and it did NOT include glasses.) But aged 28, I had a lightbulb moment. I realised how many sexy people in the world wore glasses and that if I wanted to, I could find a badass pair for myself.

Everything came full circle when I tried on a pair by optician Laura Imami. I had the foresight (pun int.) to see that just because my eyes had failed, again, didn’t mean I had to shrink back to a girl-not-yet-a-woman wearing Adidas glasses with springs at the side. I could reclaim my spectacle-wearing sense of self and in doing so, give it a re-brand. So here is my ralley cry to you all: glasses shouldn’t have to suppress you. They don’t mean you’re only allowed to snog the nerdy guy who looks like Tin Tin, who also wears glasses. Glasses don’t have to curtail your sexiness; they can enhance it. I don’t wear my glasses much, but I know what I convey when I do: a mild eccentric with a strong frame of don’t fuck me with me. The pale ghost of my young and mortified glasses-wearing self at last, slips away.

I’m wearing Laura Imami MA54 opticals.

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