Jane Bradley: Looking at glasses with fresh eyes

I wear glasses. I’ve needed them for more than 20 years now. Without them, I am practically blind. Bare-faced, I am unable to see my computer screen from just a few centimetres away; I wouldn’t recognise my own child from across the room.

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

Of course, you wouldn’t know that I was a specs wearer. No, because the picture of me that accompanies the print edition of this article is glasses-free, as is every other picture of me in existence. Catch a snap of me with my specs on my nose and I’ll snatch the camera from your hand and delete it faster than you can say “specky four eyes”.

I’m not proud of this fact. I’d love to be able to embrace the glasses-wearing me. I shouldn’t be ashamed – it is just that I have malfunctioning eyes. If I had another medical problem, a broken toe, for example, I wouldn’t be worried about wearing a cast on my foot. But glasses, I just can’t get my head around. With them on, I feel small, facially-cluttered, unconfident. And it’s not like I haven’t had a chance to get used to them. I was diagnosed as short-sighted when I was ten – at which point I thought it was ever so cool to choose a pair of Dame Edna Everage style multi-coloured frames. With hindsight, it wasn’t. But even though my current tortoiseshell frames are somewhat more a la mode, I still don’t like them.

I sometimes wear contact lenses, but only for a limited time. If I have my lenses in all day in front of the computer, it feels like I’m scratching my eyes out with sandpaper every time I blink. So most of the time, I’m forced to wear my glasses – or not, as the case may be.

For on glasses days, you’re more likely to them in my pocket – and plonked on my nose only when I need to do something that vitally requires me to see. Crossing a road, for example. Ridiculous.

Years of societal brainwashing have managed to convince me that glasses are a Bad Thing. Disney princesses never wear glasses. Female characters in romantic films occasionally start out as glasses wearers – then suddenly find their previously failing eyesight is miraculously perfect when they indulge in a makeover which will make the handsome man who has never previously noticed them suddenly fall madly in love.

The message? Well, it’s the old adage, isn’t it? Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. Not that I’m on the lookout for a man to make a pass – I have one, who is quite happy whether I’m wearing specs or not. But it’s the principle of the thing which has penetrated my subconscious.

And while I’d love to believe that in this modern world, no-one gives a damn what’s on your face, it’s a daily battle between my sensible, feminist head and Vanity, who is sitting on my shoulder telling me I look like Velma from Scooby Doo.

It’s not only women who feel that way, either. My spectacle-wearing (male) boss tells me that just the other week, a group of idiots in a car wound down the window to yell the witty insult of “specky” at him as he walked home from work.

All this is why a press release this week outraged me beyond belief. One laser eye surgery clinic sent out a “story” warning people their entire life chances are shot if they wear specs.

It claimed that not only do people find glasses wearers less attractive – but they are also less likely to get a job than their healthy-eyed counterparts.

What? Yes, according to these cretins, a “staggering” 55 per cent of employers are 55 per cent less likely to hire someone who wears glasses.

While I’m sure this research was scientifically carried out, a tiny part of me can’t help but wonder if this could just be a ploy to convince people to get laser eye surgery? Surely not.

The further conclusions drawn by this “study” were even more “staggering”. People without glasses are considered to be far “more trustworthy” than those who wear specs.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of participants who use dating apps such as Tinder say they would reject someone wearing glasses in their profile picture.

The solution? Oh yes, there we are. I was right. Bearing all of this in mind, it is “perhaps unsurprising” that the number of people electing to have laser eye surgery is growing rapidly, says the head of this unnamed company . Funny that.

But it’s given me a wake up call. No more squinting across the street for me. Today, I’m going to wear my specs proudly. And put two lenses up at those idiots who have a problem with that.