On Self-Perception and My New Glasses
Growing up, I never had any false impressions of beauty on my behalf. I never thought I was ugly or anything, but I remember telling my mom once, “I’m not ugly and I’m not beautiful. I’m just plain. I’m just me.”
I’ve always been a little too tall and a too pudgy and my hair has always had a mind of its own. I went through my biggest “awkward” stage in my preteens when my hair began its gradual metamorphasis from straight to curly. My mid-tone brown hair had been thin and straight as a board for as long as I could remember. But when I reached the ripe old age of ten it sporadically decided that it wanted to be curly…someday. At the time it was content to settle half-way between straight and curly, resulting in long, uneven kinks. We tried to cover it up with expert haircutting, but my hair still looked like it had been stuck in a humid thunderstorm. Frizzy, kinky, and brown.
And then there were the glasses. I recieved my first pair of glasses in first grade. Pudgy, tall, and with a terrible sense of fashion taste, I guess they were all I lacked to get that highly-sought after dork look. It worked, because for the next seven years I writhed at the sight of my reflection in the mirror. I longed for that magical day when I would be… a teenager. Tall and thin and beautiful, with luscious hair that didn’t look just brown and sparkling eyes, unobscured by wire-rimmed glasses. That would be the day.
At the end of eighth grade, my mom finally decided to let me get contacts. Even though it took me a painful hour and a half to get them in the first day, I soon realized that contacts were the porthole to a whole new world of self confidence. I no longer saw myself as geeky and awkward. Clothes started looking better on. My bad hair days improved. I made friends, and felt more confident talking to people. People started to like me, and no one could remember that glasses-wearing-dork. Kids I’d known for years told me they couldn’t remember what I looked like with glasses–or even knew that I’d ever worn them.
For the first time in my life, I felt happy with me. With my looks and my personality. Granted, I never woke up blissfully thinking “Wow. I’m a raving beauty.” But I felt confident enough to get my picture taken and not worry when talking with kids my age.
That was, until a few weeks ago. When I went into the optometrist and discovered I had a small rip on one of my eyes. It was nothing serious, perfectly capable of healing itself in a couple days. There was only one thing I had to do: Stop wearing contacts for five days.
To me, this was absolutely devastating. No contacts? Wear my old, dorky brown glasses around my friends, and at my big race, and to ballroom dancing? Butterflies dancing in my stomach, I pulled out my old glasses and donned them for the weekend, inwardly cringing at the reactions I was sure to get.
But, much to my surprise (relief?), nothing happened. One person asked me if I usually wore glasses. One girl said they complimented my face. And only one old friend smiled and said he forgot what I looked like with them. Everyone treated me the same. No one stared. Not a single negative remark was made.
And that was when I realized: I am the same person with glasses as I am without them. I am still Rachel Coker. I still write, I still play piano, I still make people laugh. And I will always still be a bit of a geek. And you know what? My friends and family love me that way.
When I returned to the eyedoctor I was still a little bit relieved to hear I could wear my contacts again. And I did. But I also ordered a new pair of glasses to wear every now and then. They arrived just a few days ago, and I showed them off to my somewhat shocked family. Because the new glasses I had bought were pretty much the dorkiest ones in the store. They were from the men’s section, with thick tortishell rims and a 1940’s-could-have-belonged-to-your-grandpa shape. And you know what? I love them. They are totally and completely me in every way. Retro, quirky, and just a little bit eyebrow-raising.
I wore my new glasses to church on Sunday. And in the evening, when I took my sisters to this gorgeous golden field to take pictures as the sun set, I let Hannah snap a few of me. I came home and uploaded them on the computer, silently appraising myself. But instead of the normal thoughts running through my head–my hair looks funny, what a weird face, I should have moved my arm–all I could think was These photos look really nice. I look nice with those glasses.
So, yeah. The geek thing is growing on me. I have finally realized that I can be a geek and be myself and have the confidence not to care what people think. Because I love who I am!