Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pay No Attention to the Person Behind the Glasses

Howdy and Happy Groundhog Day! I hope that everyone is enjoying Groundhog Day and didn’t wake up to relive the day over and over again. Because if that happened, you probably have some sort of lesson to learn and well, that’s no way to spend a Saturday. Also, none of us are Bill Murray so you know it wouldn’t work out anyway. 

So it’s that time again – The Island of Misfit Toys visiting Bad Shakespeare. We like to keep things interesting. If you’re looking for Bad Shakespeare, he’s over on the Island doing something awesome ( I’d thought we’d spend this Groundhog Day talking about something very important. 


Yes, glasses. I wear glasses and have since the 4th grade. For much of my life, I’ve had sort of a complicated relationship with my glasses. We moved to Louisiana around the same time I started wearing glasses so it was a lot of adjustment all at once. Being the new kid is something I can deal with. Being the new kid who also looks like a bug in her glasses is another thing completely. I was the only kid in my class that had to wear glasses (at least in my memory). Being a 4th grader with glasses is terrible. My glasses were those plastic ones that aren’t flattering for anyone. You know the ones I’m talking about. I wore them to school and then would immediately take them off once I got to my classroom. I would keep them off until my teacher made me put them on again. Usually because I was squinting. That’s why I needed glasses in the first place.

No one likes to be different when you’re a kid. In elementary and middle school, being different is basically social suicide. You tend to find kids who like the same things you do (unicorns, Jem & the Holograms, Lisa Frank folders, and New Kids on the Block) and that’s how you make friends. If you have the newest Lisa Frank folder someone is going to want to hang out with you. Don’t even get me started on Lisa Frank unicorn Trapper Keepers. We’ll be here forever.

Unless you wear glasses. When you wear glasses you’re the nerdy kid so it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest collection of unicorn themed Lisa Frank folders (aren’t all of them unicorn themed?) and every episode of Jem & the Holograms on tape, there’s not cool about you. I spent the majority of my preteen and teen years wearing terrible glasses and hating them all the time.

Here’s what I failed to realize: glasses are very powerful method of creating an identity. If I were a superhero, glasses would hide my superhero identity from everyone. Because obviously glasses make a person look totally different than they do without glasses so it makes sense that wearing glasses would be the front for a secret identity. There was a point in my life where I wanted to be Wonder Woman. I’m fairly certain that lots of people share this desire/fantasy and most aren’t even 10 years old. Anyway, Wonder Woman’s alter ego, Diana Prince, wears glasses (both in the comics and the tv show). I have to point out that my entire experience with Wonder Woman as a child was based on the tv show starring Lynda Carter and she rocked some amazing glasses as Diana Prince. I mean, it was the late 70s. These were the kinds of glasses that hipster girls wear now when they’re trying too hard. However, didn’t want to be Diana Prince. I wanted to be Wonder Woman and she didn’t wear glasses. 

Since I was way too focused on being Wonder Woman I failed to realize that the real power might in fact lie in the concept of secret identity not in combat skills, flying an invisible plane or mastering the Lasso of Truth. What I should have done in the 4th grade was to create a secret identity for myself. I didn’t necessarily have to be a superhero since I’m not entirely sure what my superhero power would be (maybe sarcasm or 80s movie trivia) but I’m pretty certain that I could have come up with something pretty great. I mean, aren’t all little kids wickedly creative when it comes to making up stories? Weren’t we all particularly gifted in the art of fibbing? Creating a secret identity would have just been an extended fib or a slight embellishment of the truth. I would call this “telling stories” now. I should have just told a story.

I could have incorporated the fact that my family moved every few years into the story (military family). That would have totally supported the need for a secret identity. I’m not entirely sure what the glasses would have had to do with this but I could have come up with something. Anything would have been better than being “glasses face” and “nerd girl.”

As I got older, I could have pulled from Shakespearean secret identities since this was the time that I stopped watching superhero tv shows and started reading plays, specifically Shakespeare. My favorites are As You Like It and Titus Andronicus. Exile and war are totally things that high school students could get behind. The instance of disguise in Titus Andronicus is maybe not the stuff of teenage secret identity stories unless you’re interested in directing or writing horror movies. Or wanting to make a career out of baking people into pies. I still think I could have made it work. Kids will believe anything right? And it would have been totally normal to make up a fantastical story that included super powers, lost kingdoms, exile, and cannibalism. That wouldn’t have been weird at all. Or landed me in therapy for the rest of my life.

Now I’m a grown-up and I have embraced my glasses as part of me. Not wearing my glasses seems weird and unnatural. I don’t even think I need a secret identity – I just really look good in glasses. Hipsters pay lots of money for fake versions of the glasses I wear on purpose. Somehow this makes me think I won. 

Thanks for reading. If you like what you’ve read, visit me on the Island of Misfit Toys (

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