I’m gonna straight up admit that I will probably rant through this whole post.
I am a proud wearer of glasses. I was 5 or 6 when it was first discovered that I was short-sighted; I was in year 1 of primary school and I was the only person in my class who needed them. I remember the conflict between being annoyed about needing them, and the novelty of having them. I had a bright yellow case that popped open at the press of a button.
I grew up with glasses on my face. My eyesight grew steadily worse, and my style in glasses grew steadily better. I went from round pinky-purple frames (aged 5-7) to blue ovals (aged 8-14) before I started discovered the classic black square frames that I’ve worn to this day.
Never once have I ever considered wearing glasses to be a problem. Sure, I have to awkwardly balance 3D glasses on top of my regular ones at the cinema, I occasionally have to take them off for some rollercoasters, and I wear them into swimming pools so that I can actually see, but I’ve just grown accustomed to that. I have no memory of what it feels like to wake up in the morning and be able to see clearly straight away – unless I’ve fallen asleep in them! – and I forget that normal people can actually see what they’re doing in the shower.
Yes, typically glasses are associated with nerds or older people, but I remember the days when girls in my secondary school were cutting out the 3D part of 3D glasses to wear the frames, and its pretty safe to say that over the last 10 years or so, glasses have become as much of an accessory as they are a necessity.
Both my mum and my aunt got laser eye surgery years ago. I remember my mum having to wear these crazy plastic things over her eyes that made her look like a fly, and I remember them raving about the results. Mum even offered to pay for me to have it when I turned 18, but I didn’t want it. My glasses are part of my look, and I’m quite open about the fact that I prefer how I look with glasses on to without. It was still a relatively new procedure when they had it done, but now laser eye surgery is becoming more popular and advertised, and this is where the spark from this post came from..
The first advertising campaign that came to my attention was for Acuvue contact lenses, and featured BBC presenter Sara Cox. Billboards and bus stop ads were created using phrases like ‘[glasses] wasn’t the look I was going for’ and ‘If I didn’t wear contact lenses.. I wouldn’t be as confident or outgoing’. This stuck a chord with me. I have always been happy wearing glasses, and the implication that glasses isn’t a ‘good look’ isn’t one that I feel companies should be using to try and sell their products. This was just the start though..
While watching some light afternoon TV, I found myself having to pause and remind an advert several times because I could not believe what I was hearing. Optical Express, a UK-wide laser eye surgery, have created an advert that has left me truly offended. As part of their ‘real people experiences’ style approach to TV advertising, the ad describes people wearing glasses as ‘unattractive’, ‘tired’, ‘old’ and ‘restricted’, while post-surgery you can feel ‘free’, ‘sophisticated’ and ‘happy’.
I actually felt my face go red with annoyance. How any company can be degrading to those who have absolutely no say in their eyesight is beyond me. Its like telling someone in a wheelchair that they’d be cooler if they walked around.
I am not restricted. I am not unattractive. I am not unsophisticated and I do not look tired or old. What I am is thoroughly annoyed. Sell your surgery to someone who cares.