Monday, 8 September 2014

On wearing glasses and body image

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my looks. I know that sounds narcissistic at first glance, but please let me explain:

We all know there is a lot of pressure in society for females in particular to look a certain way. We've all had to deal with stereotypes based on our looks, with judgement and criticism, and I'm sure that most of us, at some point, have been ashamed of our bodies, or at least certain aspects of them. I have been ashamed of aspects of my own body, and struggle with body image on a daily basis. I was bullied in school, first for having freckles and wearing glasses, and later for being "too thin". I was called anorexic, I was called "horse face" (my head is kinda long) and was ashamed of the body and face I was born with. When I was in year 8, the bullying (not just about my body, but about other stuff too) got so bad that I developed severe depression and was having thoughts I'm not proud of. It all culminated in me getting a ball to the face (deliberately), which pushed my glasses back into my eye sockets and bruised my face, with me snapping and hitting the main antagonist back (open palm, but to this day the only thing I regret about the situation is not doing it sooner, and not doing it with a clenched fist), and a change of schools which made me infinitely happier, and ended the bullying (for the most part. Teenage girls can be mean!).

The incessant bullying, the comments on my body, they stuck with me. I won't pretend that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger", because that is bullshit. The comments these people made to me, the confrontations, the name-calling and the insults have all stuck with me. They're branded in my mind and soul and I have to battle those demons every day. The things that have stuck most are the comments about my glasses. I know the word "nerd" is seen as endearing and "in" right now, but believe you me that when you're a preteen struggling to come to terms with being female, with society's ideas of what is "pretty", being called a nerd is not cool.

For years I struggled to accept the fact I need to wear glasses. I've had them since I was seven years old and so spent all of my teen and preteen life feeling ashamed of my freckly face and the metal frames that were perched on it. Despite needing to wear glasses pretty much all day every day, you will be lucky to find a photo of me wearing them in my teenage years. Every time someone whipped a camera out, my glasses came off. To my silly little brain, glasses were ugly, and wearing them made me an ugly nerd. 

I'm happy to report that somewhere along the line, once I left school I had a change of heart. Thanks to the sudden attention of boys, my confidence built. I'm totally ashamed to say that it took a male's approval to shake me out of my silly, unconfident, glasses-hating ways, but it's true. A guy told me I was beautiful while I had glasses on, and kissed me and I remember excitedly telling my mum when I got home "He thinks I'm beautiful with my glasses on!" as if it was a total miracle. I started wearing eye make up to accentuate my eyes behind the lenses, I bought a pair of attractive designer frames and I began to own those glasses! I began to accept them as a part of me! I wear them as if they're a banner saying "I'm an attractive, well-educated, intelligent and classy woman, dammit! And my glasses frame my face and draw attention to my sparkly green-brown eyes!"

Recently, I have begun considering getting laser surgery on my eyes to fix my short sightedness. It's something the teenaged me wanted for years, but 20 year old me is in two minds about it. Over the past three years, as I have come to accept and even love my freckly, glasses-wearing face, I've begun to feel like my glasses are a part of me. Contrary to my teenage years, these days you're lucky to find a photo of me not wearing my glasses! I feel as if my face looks naked without them, and as much as I'd love to not have to constantly wipe my glasses in the rain or wear safety goggles over my glasses like a fool in my lab classes so I can see my experiments, I think I would kind of miss them if I didn't have to wear them anymore.

It's been a long road to acceptance of my body and face and self-love for me, but I know I'm not alone in my experiences. Is it really so crazy to think that I may miss my glasses, which gave me such hell growing up, if I were to have my vision fixed? Won't I still be the attractive, well-educated, intelligent and classy woman without them? I'll just have to find something else to draw attention to my eyes and frame my face. 

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