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!