I understand Clark Kent. His glasses, amongst other things, changed the way people perceived him. To viewers, it seems obvious Clark Kent is indeed Superman. In younger years, I didn't get why Clark Kent needed to exist. Sorry, CK. It's true.
But now? I get it. Sometimes we don't want people to know All of Us. We're content to let them in on the prepackaged version we've chosen. Best to leave the nitty gritty details for a chosen few, if any.
When I told my mom I thought I needed glasses in 3rd grade, she didn't believe me at first. Quite a few of my friends needed glasses and she thought that's why I wanted them. Pretty funny to think of glasses as a desired commodity. In any case, a doctor's exam convinced my mom.
Back then, I relished the clear pink plastic frames. Plus, I could see clearly now, the rain was gone. Or something like that. The clear pink frames graduated to blue-rimmed wire frames. And just before 8th grade, I got contacts. Glasses were relegated to evenings and whenever I was sick- but not always even then.
It's not worth exploring here how, and why I came to have a poor opinion of wearing glasses. You need only know it happened. Contacts-version Leigh was far superior to glasses-version Leigh, at least in my head. Prettier, wittier, wiser. With my contacts in, I was definitely the full package. Surely boys would love me and my pretty blue eyes!
In my glasses, I felt invisible, nerdy, and yet more likely to be taken seriously. I definitely wouldn't land a husband that way. (Please know I laugh at myself so much for ever thinking this. I'm also relieved I woke up and smelled the coffee.)
Somewhere along the way, definitely by the time I started grad school, I grew tired of the complications of wearing contacts. Sometimes, I thought, it would be nice to throw my glasses on and not care. The only problem being my old glasses were literally falling apart. My roommates Jen and Donna were lucky enough to see me continue wearing them at night, only held up by a wish and a prayer.
In 2005 I decided to purchase a new pair of glasses. A pair I wouldn't mind wearing in public. Ones that conveyed a sense of who I was. I ended up with a pair that I loved, which incidentally veer in the hipster direction. Ah, irony.
I tentatively wore them around friends, testing the waters. I wore them camping. I didn't shove my contacts in first thing on the weekend. I even wore them to work when I hadn't slept much the night before.
A few months ago, I posted a Facebook status along the lines of saying "you know you're a true friend if you've seen me in my glasses." I'd had plans to meet my friend Amanda for morning coffee and didn't feel like putting contacts in. Off I went. We had a blast chatting. It was business as usual.
Interesting that I equated "seeing me in my glasses" as a pseudo-measure of friendship. It's almost a statement about my willingness to be vulnerable.
See my glasses, see me.
That's how it began, at least. The more comfortable I felt with a friend, the more likely I'd wear my glasses around them. And now I see it had everything to do with how I felt about myself and nothing with how I thought my friends perceived me.
I wear my glasses more than I used to. I still wear contacts most of the time because it is my preference and because my contacts help maintain my vision- a bonus of gas permeable lenses. But I'm not angsty about wearing glasses around town.
I'm confident in who I am. Glasses and contacts don't change that. Might people view me differently based on my eyewear? Perhaps but it seems to be more their problem than mine.
I have no grand conclusion here. If I had a sudden influx of money, I'd look seriously into LASIK. I'm OK with that. In fact, I'm OK with however I choose to present myself to the world these days. And maybe that's the best part of seeing myself clearly.
This post is a part of The Insecurity Project
Do you wear glasses?