petite anglaise

November 12, 2004

Tadpole vision

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:00 am

From time to time when I look at Tadpole’s lovely little face I remember that she will soon be needing glasses. And I pray that the optician made a mistake in her diagnosis. She is a carbon copy of Mr Frog in every way, except for a defective pair of blue eyes, a genetic gift from her mummy.

When I imagine Tadpole in glasses, I cannot rid my mind of a mental image of myself wearing hideous National Health standard issue spectacles, available in a choice of blue, flesh pink, brown or transparent with bottle bottom lenses. I wore these from the ages of four to sixteen and the lenses got thicker as I became more short-sighted. The lenses were so heavy that the frames slid down my narrow nose and perched precariously at the bottom. Other kids thought I was stuck up because I looked ‘down my nose’ at them. Unsurprisingly I only like photographs of myself taken pre- and post-spectacles: the powerful correction distorted my face, my eyes seen through the lenses looking much smaller, my mouth and nose disproportionately large. I felt ugly. I was painfully shy and lacking in self-confidence.

Glasses were the reason why I hated swimming (couldn’t see the people I was with) and one of my excuses for being crap at sport (paranoid about getting hit in the face by a ball). If I ever fainted or fell, it was my evil glasses that did me the most damage. A vivid memory of a wasp once crawling onto the inside of my right lens right next to my eye still makes me shudder. In nightmares I am likely to ‘lose my glasses’ at a crucial moment so that everything becomes frustratingly blurred and I can’t find the person or thing that I’m looking for.

At a school disco when I was about thirteen, one of the rare occasions when our girls’ grammar school fraternised with the neighbouring boys’ grammar, a boy tapped me on the shoulder to tell me his mate ‘fancied me’. I didn’t have my glasses on that night, so to this day I have no idea who ‘his mate’ was or what he looked like. I had my first boyfriend only after I was allowed my first pair of contact lenses at sixteen. Without glasses I was a different person: I felt confident and desirable for the first time in my life, and set about making a damn good job of making up for lost time where boys were concerned.

I’m the first one to poke fun at those cringeworthy American teen movies where the hottest boy in school (always played by Freddie Prinze Junior) takes the nerdiest girl to the high school prom for a bet, but ends up falling for her when she takes off her glasses and shakes her hair out of its poneytail. Undeniably though, shedding my glasses did make a huge difference. I felt attractive and that alone changed other people’s perception of me. While I skulked around with them on, feeling ugly, that’s how people saw me.

I have promised myself that no expense will be spared to make sure Tadpole has the most fashionable glasses money can buy when she is old enough to care. Progress means that these days they are lighter, prettier, with thinner lenses – a fashion accessory that other little girls are jealous of (or so I’m told).

But the truth is that I’m the one who will have a problem with her wearing glasses. I’m going to need to find a way to exorcise all these negative feelings so that I don’t unwittingly pass all my hang-ups on to Tadpole. It’s not going to be easy, with taunts of ‘speccy four eyes’ ringing in my ears as if it were only yesterday.

Commenters: Don’t.You.Dare.


  1. Oh dear.

    I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 14, but I confess that I haven’t had the same negative experience. Of course that’s because I didn’t have to wear the coke-bottom glasses and I did have some kind of choice in the frames.

    I have astigmatism in both eyes, so I’d been told in the past that I cannot wear contacts. I don’t know if that’s still true, but I prefer my glasses.

    I hope you get loads of comments from people with positive glasses experiences; maybe that will calm your fears a little? :smile:

    Comment by ViVi — November 12, 2004 @ 10:09 am

  2. Je porte aussi des lunettes depuis que j’ai 16 ans, au début c’était vraiment gênant. Mais j’ai 19 ans et eu 3 paires de lunettes. Et la dernière que j’ai choisie après une forte analyse vestimentaire et de style. Et je considère mes lunettes un accessoire de mode comme un collier, un bracelet. Enfin, je peux plus m’en passer !

    A son âge, le tétard n’a pas encore de style mais je suis sûr que sa maman choisira les plus belles lunettes pour sa fille chérie. Demandez quand même son avis !

    “Noooooooooon, ça existe pas les lunettes Pokémon !”

    Comment by wiLLoØ — November 12, 2004 @ 11:36 am

  3. I was 15 when I had to get glasses and so I was able to start wearing contacts right away.
    I know some people may say it’s vain of me not to want to wear glasses but I prefer them for the freedom they give me. They’re better for sports and my peripheral vision and I don’t have to constantly be cleaning fingerprints off of them. I look at people with glasses and wonder what in the world they’re thinking, especially since contacts are so readily available and almost everyone these days can wear them.
    On the other hand, I have seen some very nice frames here in France. And the French seem to consider them a fashion accessory, not something only “nerds” wear.
    I guess Tadpole will make up her own mind about glasses vs. contact lenses when she gets older.

    Comment by Anna — November 12, 2004 @ 12:19 pm

  4. I rarely notice if people wear glasses or not. Sometimes, if someone has taken them off temporarily, I think “oh, they look different”, but I don’t immediately realise it’s because of the glasses.

    After the experience you had, it’s not surprising that you’re worried about tadpole, but I would suggest just not making a big deal about it with her, then she’ll just think it’s the norm…

    Comment by witho — November 12, 2004 @ 4:21 pm

  5. What doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger!

    Comment by Faye — November 12, 2004 @ 4:54 pm

  6. Glasses from the age of 6 to 36, so I understand your comments, but last year I went for Laser surgery and ‘boy’ has that made a difference, that’s the way to go, no more fumberling around in the dark/morning trying to find where my glasses are just as they ‘shoot’ of the bedside table and could never get the hang of contacts so they were a non-starter. Now I have as close to 20/20 as you can get ;-) and loving every moment of it, all those sports I couldn’t do before I’m throwing myself into now , White Water Rafting/Ice climbing to name two that I’ve tried this year… and the ski season starts next week…. :-) Good luck which ever way it goes….

    Comment by ZürichTram — November 12, 2004 @ 5:37 pm

  7. Sophia Loren wears glasses – and still manages to look very sexy. I don’t think people look at people who wear glasses in the same way as when we were younger.

    Comment by Raised By Chaffinches — November 12, 2004 @ 6:03 pm

  8. Contact lenses are great. But I only wear them (I have magnificent blue eyes whose effect it would be a shame to waste) to pull, which doesn’t happen all that often (any more). Then I get wasted and fall asleep wearing my contacts. This has a horrific effect on one’s eyeballs. Conclusion: If you can’t pull in specs, don’t try to pull at all.

    Comment by dan — November 12, 2004 @ 6:25 pm

  9. I had various traumatic experiences as a young person with glasses, usually involving mean boys kicking a soccer ball into my face and smashing them, or my unwitting sister sitting on them, but as an adult, I too have become reconciled to them. Yes, they are more fashionable and lighter now, and with my astigmatism contacts would be difficult if not impossible. Better by far than being born blind, I say!

    Comment by Emily — November 12, 2004 @ 6:42 pm

  10. I identify with your “defective pair of blue eyes”! I am very nearsighted with lots of astigmatism to boot, and have been that way since age 8. When I was 12 I was allowed to get contacts because the coke-bottle glasses made me so self-conscious. But the hard contact lenses made my eyes red and watery, with the result that I was nicknamed “Drugs” for several years afterward.

    Now I wear soft contacts (whoever invented toric lenses gets an award, if you ask me!) or glasses, according to my mood. Thank goodness for high-refractive-index lenses. This is the first pair of glasses I have ever really honestly liked in my entire life.

    Comment by Jamie — November 12, 2004 @ 7:05 pm

  11. i’ve worn glasses ever since i can remember … i had an operation done in tokyo to rectify a squint, then it was done again in london … and finally i only had to wear glasses for reading (and now the computer).

    if i have to wear them full-time, which i feel i should be, then i’m too vain to wear glasses – much as i like them, so will get contacts and glasses.

    coralie has had her eyes operated on succesfully, although she still needs glasses for reading and such, and todd has been wearing glasses since he was young. what they both hated the most was having to wear an eye-patch … and i sympathise.

    but there are great frames out there for kids – just make sure that they hook around the ears :)

    Comment by zed — November 12, 2004 @ 8:27 pm

  12. Oh my God petite, I lived *exactly* what you describe above. Thank heaven for contact lenses. To this day I can’t put my emergency specs on without feeling like a hideous freak. And my youngest son has a lazy eye so may well end up wearing specs too.:mad: I also intend to get him the coolest sexiest glasses available even if he’s only one( baby photos) as I would’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. Thank you for this post!!

    Comment by Suziboo — November 15, 2004 @ 1:45 pm

  13. I’ve worn glasses since about age 11. It seemed that my vision just went to hell overnight. I had to wear them; otherwise I couldn’t see anything. When I was 14, my mom got both me and my sister contact lenses (she was 12), and thank the gods she did so! I hate wearing contacts, but I have extremely dry eyes and would not make a good candidate for LASIK. Good thing that your Tadpole is growing up now, so that later on, if she’s a candidate, she has more available options. :)

    Comment by Cass — November 15, 2004 @ 5:49 pm

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