Working to end the stigma of glasses


I just came across this lovely, and heartbreaking, post from Almost All the Truth, “A Kinder New Year in Glasses.”  She talks about how important it is for all people to be kind to each other and especially not to call names.  It got me thinking about the name calling that so often comes from the stereotypes around glasses: that people in glasses are nerdy or shy or clumsy or awkward or weak.

Just take a look at the TV Tropes page for Glasses.  For those that have never been to TV Tropes, it’s a site that categorizes so many writing conventions and devices, especially as they relate to fiction in TV shows, movies, books, and more.  A word of warning, it can be an extremely fascinating, time-wasting site.  But back to the glasses, it seems that glasses show up most often to indicate that a character is smart or nerdy, weak, or unattractive.  There are exceptions of course, my favorite being Harry Potter, where the smartest characters didn’t wear glasses, and Harry, the hero (and a popular athlete in school) did wear them.  But those exceptions are few and far between. It’s clear how these ideas, as untrue as they are, can lead to teasing and unfair assumptions about kids who wear glasses.  And given how important it is that children who need glasses wear them, we need to push against those ideas whenever possible.

And that’s what the Great Glasses Play Day is trying to stop.  We want to take away the stigma of wearing glasses and instead celebrate the great things that glasses can do for our children:

  • Glasses help our children to see well, they do not define our children’s intelligence or abilities.
  • Glasses can be a way for our children to express their personality and individuality, but they do not define our children’s personalities.
  • Simply put, glasses help our children to do what they love, better!

Ann Zawistoski is a co-founder of The Great Glasses Play Day.  Her daughter, Zoe, started wearing glasses at 14 months for farsightedness.  She’s now a spunky kindergartner who rocks her glasses.  Ann is also the owner and administrator of Little Four Eyes, a community for parents of young kids in glasses, patches, and contacts.


2 thoughts on “Working to end the stigma of glasses

  1. I think that when I wrote that post, that is what stung me the most. I honestly thought we had moved past most of the stigma. I still think things are better, but not as great as I would like them to be. I love the idea of a Great Glasses Play Day!

    • Shortly after publishing this, I was at a local toy store with my daughter picking out a gift for a birthday party. There in the cheap stuff section by the cash registers, they had fake glasses, you could choose from “bug eyed”, “nerdy”, or “clumsy”. They were big and dark and had exaggeratedly thick lenses. Like a punch to the stomach! Like you, I really do think things are better than they used to be, but then you see things like that, or the plot lines where an “unattractive” girl wearing glasses gets a makeover which will always include removing the glasses, and you start to wonder again.

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