Thoughts about being a kid with glasses

Today I was browsing through the feed on my facebook page, the way I do every morning after checking emails, but before going to pinterest. I have a strict time-wasting website schedule. Anyway, I came across a post from a friend of mine, someone I’ve only hung out with once or twice, but I’ve gotten to know her pretty well from FB. She is always posting pictures of her husband, her son and daughter, and they always seem really happy and like they are having a great time together. It’s nice to see some positive posts, since 90% of my feed is just people complaining about stuff. Myself included.

Anyway, the post this morning was basically this: “Last night my daughter told my husband that she thinks she is ugly. That she looks ugly with her glasses on. She seemed so sad and her little voice sounded so fragile. If anyone could leave a comment for her, to help her feel better and I will read them all to her. Thanks.” (For her privacy I paraphrased a bit.)

Heart. Breaking. This kid is only 6, and she just recently got her glasses. Now I’ve seen some kids out there that are, shall we say, “less than handsome”, but this little girl is not one of them. She’s adorable, and her little tiny glasses are ridiculous. So cute.

But to read that this morning just made me so sad for her. I can relate, I was really self-conscious when I got my glasses too. Kids can be horrible to one another, and according to the unabridged version of the post, this “ugly” business was brought on by some less-than-awesome comments from her classmates. I got my glasses when I was about 7, and I got some teasing about it myself. Luckily I was the kind of child that had very early on established my “take no crap from nobody” reputation, so a few threats back and some nasty glares from me and the bullying started to go away.

But the harder bully to deal with was myself. I felt weird. I felt like my glasses were like a wall between me and other people, and I just couldn’t forget that they were on my face, making me feel different and awkward. I wore them as little as possible, but it was hard because I couldn’t see the blackboard in school without them.

I wasn’t really comfortable wearing them until I was older, in high school, and I was far more concerned with more important things like flirting with guys and shopping for Doc Martens and babydoll dresses. And by that time, they became an actual accessory. I liked that they made me look smarter, and I liked picking out cool frames. I also liked that guys suddenly seemed to like girls with cute glasses, thanks to indi-tarts like Lisa Loeb, so I exploited that to my advantage.

But the years of wearing my glasses and feeling different were tough. I hate thinking that this little girl feels bad about herself for something so trivial. But when you are a kid, glasses are NOT trivial. They are major. They are on your face, messing up your life and they are the end of the world if they make you different or if the other kids make fun of you.

It’s easy to look back on those times now that I’m older and be like, “Glasses are no big deal, just ignore those other kids.”. But in that moment as a kid, you just can’t do that. I hope that this girl finds the strength to ignore the bullies. I hope that she finds a way to be okay with how she looks, and to appreciate looking smarter than the other kids. It’s something that has to come within, and nothing anyone says will truly make her feel good about herself until she realizes it herself.

But the best thing ever would be if these mean kids would just mind their own business and stop picking on kids for stuff that really matters ZERO in the real world. Do they hear parents picking on other adults for similar stuff? Do the parents tease the kids about small stuff, thinking it’s just light-hearted? It’s not. Kids take stuff to heart and something you think is just “teasing” really takes the helium out of their balloon, so to speak.

So maybe we should all watch the way we tease each other sometimes, or how critical we can be of strangers and even our own families. Bullying is such a huge problem in this world, when all we need to do to solve it is just break the cycle and be a little sweeter to each other.

I hope this girl figures out that she is beautiful and that she has no reason to be hard on herself or feel awkward. I hope she learns to look up to smart and beautiful women like Tina Fey, Zooey Deschanel and Rashida Jones who wear glasses and look awesome doing it.

And I also hope she tells those kids where to shove their “opinions” of her.

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2 responses

  1. This is really great. You’re right how it’s easy to look at this stuff as an adult and think of it as no big deal… but when we remember how it ACTUALLY FELT to be picked on or teased, it’s tough to give any advice other than “find things to love about your glasses, not things to hate.” I hope this little girl gets that message and can put it to work. Childhood’s too short to live with shame for something so trivial. Excellent post, schwes!

  2. Two of my nieces (8y.o. & 4 y.o) got glasses this fall. 8y.o. Niece got hers at the beginning of the school year, after her parents took her in because she was having difficulty reading the channel guide on the DVR (isn’t technology something, that kids would have this issue today, whereas our generation discovered poor eyesight in methods now extinct?). She picked out the pinkest pair she could find, and she loves them. 4.y.o. Niece2 has had a “lazy eye” issue for a couple of years now, and has had to wear a patch over one eye for an hour every night. It hasn’t helped correct the issue, but has, instead made one eye nearsighted and the other far-sighted as her brain struggles to manage the information coming in from her eyes. The glasses are the second-to-last resort, the last one being surgery. She has some really cute wire frames. Her mom picked out two pair (one is bronze, the other pink) in case one gets lost or broken. The doctor said they’ll know it’s working if she actually wears them. If they aren’t helping her see, she won’t want to wear them. So far, so good, and she has a drop-in thing that covers one lens for an hour every night. Neither of them seem to mind. I’m just grateful that eyewear these days doesn’t have to be the ugly, thick, soda-bottle stuff of my youth. I picked out the ugliest pair possible (though I didn’t know it back then)!

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