Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guys rarely make passes...

... at girls who wear glasses. Ugh. When I first got glasses, one of my Mom's friends actually said this to her (well, in Mandarin and she didn't speak in rhyme, but you get my point). She continued, in all earnestness, that it would be really, really hard for me to find a husband. I was only seven years old. Fortunately, I have a cool mother who had no interest in getting her daughter married off before puberty, and she let me keep my man-deterring specs.

I remember the conversation because I just thought it was so weird (and not just because getting married was the last thing I was interested in doing as a second grader). When our optometrist told me I was nearsighted, I was thrilled! I thought glasses made me look so grown-up and smart. My first pair was pink with little red and blue accents, like the stripes in peppermint candy. I wore them with a red cord, which became my style signature in grade school:


A few years later, I was in sixth grade and it was time for me to get a more serious looking pair of frames. I got a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. They look really big and owlish now, but I remember all the kids in school who wore glasses had aviator-style specs, too:

I miss that dress! The mullet-perm, not so much.

I've been thinking about glasses lately because I saw some cool posts about spectacles on Lulu Letty, Fashion for Writers and Diary of a Vintage Girl. I also accidentally washed one of my contact lens down the sink last week. This was the day before my husband found the dog in the park; I had to spend the whole day at home watching him, so I couldn't run out and buy a new pair. As a result, I had to wear glasses the next morning while I was out doing an interview. To my surprise, I found wearing them outside quite comfortable and even the lack of peripheral vision didn't bother me. And, just like when I was a little girl, I loved how my glasses lent me some gravitas.

As an expat living in Taiwan, I sometimes feel very conscious about my accent and limited vocabulary as a non-native Mandarin speaker. This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of people are surprised by the way I sound, because I look Taiwanese. To compensate, I really make an effort to express myself through my clothing while at the same time appearing professional. It's my way of telling people "hey, I might not sound the way you expect me to, but I have a point of view and I have my act together. I make my style decisions deliberately, and that extends to the way I conduct the rest of my life."

When I added my glasses to the mix, it was like wearing a mask in a way. I felt protected. My glasses are a bit nerdy, but at the same time their rectangular silhouette is fashionable in Taiwan. I like to think the message they send out is "I like to read and I am fluent in Taiwanese popular culture!"

Unfortunately, I forgot that whenever I wear glasses, I do this weird twitchy thing with the right side of my face. Last year, I wore my specs to Chinese class. One of my classmates interrupted lunch to ask, "Catherine, are you winking at me?" I totally forgot about that until the other day, when Ron told me during lunch that I was twitching. It's unconscious and I think it is because my face is unaccustomed to the extra weight. After all, I've worn contacts almost every day for the past 17 years. Unfortunately, I had lunch with Ron after my interview. I seriously hope I didn't spend an hour doing this to the designers I was talking to:

Gar! Anyway, I've decided to stick to contacts for now. It'll save me a certain amount of public and professional humiliation, but it pains my heart when I see the kind of truly awesome vintage frames available out there. Check out these amazing specs from Vintage50sEyewear:

And as for the whole "guys rarely make passes..." thing... why would anyone want to date, let alone marry, a guy who judges someone based on their eyewear!?! Sheesh!


  1. I love this post! I've had bad eyes since I was a kid too (I forget which grade... maybe 4?), so seeing the evolution of your elementary school glasses definitely brings back memories. The pair that I was the most excited about were purple with darker purple speckles on them, wire frame... someone actually stole them from me while I was swimming at our local pool! I got out of the pool, and they were gone. Had to ride my bike home all blind! So strange. But, I've also had contacts for forever... I was in ballet when I was a kid and we weren't allowed to wear glasses for recitals, so I started wearing contacts when I was really young. I love my glasses now (awesome 50's plastic frames), but I still feel like I'm not totally awake when I wear them, haha. The winking photo is ADORABLE.

  2. Hi Anja! That's exactly how I feel when I wear my glasses out in public, too... a little bit fuzzy headed.

  3. Hahahaha, I thought hthis post was SO funny!!!! I can't relate because I just got glasses last year.. But after I bought my frames I realized there were a MILLION other frames that were so much cooler!! And I think your glasses look great on you :D:D

  4. Oh, you and I would have been best friends in grade school!! I wore the same glasses from first grade until fourth grade when I realized that my big glasses were uncool!!!

    Now I wear my glasses everyday and sadly and can't even wear contacts since my eyes are allergic, but I truly don't mind.

    Four eyes are better than two!!

  5. your photos are so CUTE! i love kids in glasses. maybe i'm biased because i used to be one of those kids. mine were pastel purple with pink sponge paint. i wore them from age 8 till age 14.. ugh.. i didn't even want to switch to a more serious pair as i should have. anyway, i love your current glasses- nothing nerdy about those! and the vintage ones you posted are so pretty! ~joelle

  6. I really, really love this post! I remember hating that I had glasses until I moved to my new town and there was a club with "glasses only" exclusiveness. Suddenly, I wanted to wear those glasses! I got contacts eventually, but for that while, I remember thinking it was really special. Anyway, I like your "more serious" pair of glasses and your current pair, too!