by Kayla Rundquist
You’ve probably seen many a classic teen flick. The one where the nerdy girl gets a fantastic makeover and walks into her high school dance with a chorus of angels singing behind her. And that one unreachable hot guy turns and suddenly realizes that she’s the most beautiful girl in school. If you haven’t seen something like that, you might live under a rock. As someone who has seen plenty of these, I have noticed that there is one common factor in all of these movies. It comes in various shapes, but with stereotypes intact, it is always there. It is the moment where the kindly fairy godmother takes off the nerdy girl’s prescription glasses and says: “You have such pretty eyes.” Like she didn’t have pretty eyes before the glasses came off.
As a glasses-wearing, confident young person who has gone to several dances, I notice that no one ever wears their spectacles when they want to feel ‘pretty’ or ‘dressed up’. The question that then arises, though, is this: If not wearing your glasses makes you pretty, then what about every other day of the year? When the ‘nerdy’ girl is going about her normal life wearing her glasses? Does that make her ugly? Uglier than her peers? Why is it that we constantly tell young people (girls and boys) that they are prettier when they don’t wear the glasses that they need to see with? Certainly, the days of schoolyard bullies chanting ‘four-eyes’ might be past, but the stigma still exists.
Am I saying that people who wear glasses are better? No. Am I saying that those who choose to wear contacts are an affront to the idea of self-confidence? Not at all. The uses for contacts are endless, and the desire to change one’s style and appearance is healthy and natural. But. A problem arises when a girl, who feels pretty, and confident, and good about herself while wearing glasses, is told she must change in order to look better. This is not the case. She is perfect as she is. She can wear her glasses and dress up at the same time. She can go on a fancy dinner and actually be able to see well. She can avoid poking herself in the eyeball if she wants, and she will still look just as beautiful as if she were to force herself to wear contacts.
Let’s stop giving our little sisters, cousins and mentees the idea that their need for glasses is a handicap, that they are less pretty than those who don’t wear glasses. It may not seem like a big deal, but at some point, that little sister is going to be sitting in front of a mirror feeling ugly because she has to wear glasses to school in order to see the chalkboard. We won’t change that reality until we change our attitudes about beauty. That’s why I am wearing my glasses to prom.