When the Glasses Come Off

beautiful-dandelion-tattoo-on-girl-backHow does someone deal with the different reactions they receive on a day they’re pretty and the next when they’re considered not to be?

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in 3rd grade. I’ve always been told they suit me. I didn’t think much of it. Then I got contact lenses. The first time I wore them was over the summer during a gathering of several family friends.

One of the family friends that we met with, also had two daughters of our similar age. However, even though we grew up together and were considered close, to be honest it was more of the two sisters were close to my sister. I really never knew why. I guess it was just normal for other family’s to look at the eldest and introducing my sister was like introducing me because I academically walked in my sisters exact steps, the same elementary, middle, and high school; I guess people thought it wasn’t necessary to give me attention. I was used to it by then. In gatherings I was used to sitting like an obedient, good doll-like daughter without speaking. It wasn’t that anyone made me stay like that. It was just that whenever I spoke, my voice would get drowned out by the words of others. So I learned to give up and just listen.

But the attention that day was almost awkward. At first for the first five minutes I liked it. It was a nice change but after those five minutes I didn’t know how to handle it. I mean I became popular in high school and was used to attention but this was different. I don’t know how to explain it but whenever it came to our family’s friends/ relatives, I was always on my toes. It was a different type of tension than dealing with immature high school students or even bullies. It felt more personal.

That day though I kept getting stares. I first thought they were negative stares. Then, the father of the family with two daughters, who we grew up with, suddenly talked about who was the prettiest of the four of us (between his daughters, my sister, and I). He said it was me…. It was the first time I’d ever received any type of attention like that from him. Usually it was just the routine questions that lasted for a few seconds but even several weeks ago, when he visited, he hugged me as if I was his youngest daughter and took pictures of me (not my sister though).

I want to make clear that it was not in the perverted way. If I had felt uncomfortable in that way at all, I would have been seriously pissed. He just treated me in a more friendly way, which he never took the time to do before. He tells funny stories and shows funny videos to me now, alongside my sister. It was more like he was suddenly considering, oh wait…she exists.

I think the reaction that really opened my eyes about all the weird attention I was receiving was that night when my mother, sister, and I went to meet another old family friend that very summer night, after many years. I was standing right in front of the door, so I would be the first thing the person who opened it, would see. It was the father of the family. He stood in the doorway for a good three minutes as he stared at me. For the first two minutes I was sure he didn’t recognize me.

I have to admit though, it does sound weird when I write about the fathers giving such a reaction. Even I would assume their perverts if I were to read this. But it wasn’t just them. They just gave the most the noticeable reactions. The women…would just stare. Clearly looking me up and down.

My sister said that I looked the same with my glasses on or off. I believed her. I only thought wearing contact lenses made me only look a little better because people could see my eyes more clearly and notice how they’re bigger. Other than that, to us that was it.

Then, after the past few months of receiving smiles from men on the subway and high school guys during the winter suddenly I got self conscious. They weren’t the usual hello friendly smiles I got. Again, I just can’t seem to explain it. I just suddenly began to believe, I looked prettier without glasses. Now, I found the need to wear contact lenses always.

I hate it though. That desire of wearing contact lenses that came solely from me just wanting to, disappeared and once again it was about what was more acceptable or was receiving a better response.

Then on top of that, recently the pressure of constantly hearing of how hot my sister is in her privileged, rich white filled college…I had to become prettier. (Note that I’m not being stereotypical or racist. The majority are in fact very rich and also white. I’m just describing them as they are.)

Objectively my sister and I rather than looking pretty, we look different. We both have a golden hue of a skin tone, not white, yellow, or brown. It was almost impossible to find an exact foundation color to suit my sister’s skin color. I think what made my sister aware that she was pretty was when she went to Argentina the summer right before her first year in college. Guys would cat call her and refer to her as exotic. Everyone did.

After that, how we looked began to affect us. Before we were so busy studying, we didn’t even have the time to notice whether guys liked or us not. In fact we both had a phase where we worried about our lack of interest in guys because it wasn’t “normal” for teenage girls.

But the problem was, between the whole situation I was going through where I was dealing with a part in my life people usually dealt with when they were a lot older, I was suddenly a regular teenager in the mature situation I was forced to handle with.

And I hated every minute of it. It felt as if the importance of the situation diminished the minute I worry about something as small as my appearance. The maturity that I wear as my armor suddenly would become nonexistent when facing those thoughts.

In the end, I become vulnerable. But the thousand questions I ask myself before I leave my house, sucks more. Because it’s so tiring.






  1. Hmmm..interesting read. It’s amazing how something as simple as “taking off the glasses” can expose a whole systemic bias in a family and really beyond that.
    Your writing of your experience regarding of what seems to be your direct contact with the ‘halo effect’ is really something to reflect on. It’s almost as if you could feel people’s opinion changing of you as soon as they saw you. I’ve kind of had the same experience with becoming a new mom. My look has become a lot more simple and really not that much time is put into how I look now. I’ve noticed that people may assume that you don’t have much input to provide a conversation, or are a little too surprised to find out I’m educated.
    It’s definitely an interesting subject! Keep writing! I found you on Community Pool and I’m glad I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for finding me! I’ve actually never heard of the halo effect but I’m going to search it up now! 🙂

      I agree though. I look very young for my age, so when people hear me talk, they suddenly think the opposite then (thinking I’m older now) because I sound so mature and educated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wear glasses and contacts also. The difference between how people react to me is immense. I get stared at in my glasses still but I get double takes and hit on without them. It’s ridiculous. I just refuse to feel any type of way about either though. I’ve also noticed (being a blonde) that when I’m not wearing glasses people act as if I’m stupid. But they don’t when I wear glasses. Bias runs so deep in society these days.

    Liked by 1 person

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