I knew I was vain, but I never realised how vain until I got told I had a minor eye infection and I couldn’t wear my contact lenses for a week. I’ve always been one to constantly check my reflection in every mirror I pass and it definitely got worse when I started wearing contact lenses at 15/16 years old. My eye sight is, on the whole, not really there. I can only just function if I don’t wear my contact lenses or my glasses but trying to look for something I’ve lost in this way is a non- starter. When I first started not being able to see properly in year four, I was determined that I would never have to wear my glasses full time but within a month this was massively unrealistic and I could no longer see more than a few centimetres in front of my face. Since then my eye sight has either stayed the same or got a tad worse.
In college I never once wore my glasses into any of my classes; I was just too worried of what people would think of me. Even though nearly everyone seems to be wearing glasses nowadays and I would never get bullied like my mother did for wearing them, I have never been confident wearing them anywhere except for at home. Possibly this was because I was exposed to a new set of people in college who I knew would already judge me for my posh accent and the school I went to, I didn’t want another thing for them to pick up on – ‘she has spots and glasses? Ew she will be forever single’. The school I spent the previous 14 years in had become a second home and I was always comfortable wearing my glasses there, even though I definitely preferred my contact lenses.
This feeling has lessened since starting University. Letting go of keeping up what I thought of as looking good, especially after a night out, was a step that I took to feel more confident about myself. Possibly breaking up with my last boyfriend made me feel a bit less confident about wearing my glasses because before then I had never been interested in looking good for anyone else. There is definitely a pressure that I have put on myself to try and impress every boy that I like the look of, even though I also want to be a strong independent woman. I will never make it as a feminist because I am constantly trying and mostly failing to convince myself that I don’t need a man. If I do gain another boyfriend though, they’ll have to cope with me wearing my glasses at some point! For now, however, I am confident that my flat mates have seen me at all states of the tide and will accept me for who I am whatever I do with my face.
I suppose this week of being banned from my contact lenses will be a test of how comfortable I actually am in myself and if I have taken my contact lenses for granted for too long. I suspect that I have come to rely on them too much and at first I was angry that this had happened to me and it had to have happened in the one week when I am due to go out clubbing twice. However, going out in my glasses can’t be as bad as being the only one wearing gothic Star Wars themed make up to an event where no one else dressed up. And as my mum pointed out, it will possibly keep the boys at bay on those nights out.
Life throws many hurdles our way. My mother has suffered a similar problem with her eyes, except that hers involved getting bread dust stuck in there which sounds considerably more painful than what I am experiencing. This meant that she absolutely could not wear her contact lenses for nearly a month and she reminded me of this when I phoned her about my situation as soon as I was out of the opticians. She also hates wearing her glasses in public, even more than me! After work she would go straight home to avoid seeing anyone that she knew whilst wearing her glasses. At the time I thought she was mad but now I understand completely. Even walking back to my car after the optician’s appointment I felt upset and just wanted to hide away for a week. I can see now that feeling like this is silly and that for the people who I am close to, it doesn’t make a difference whether I wear my glasses or not.
There are still a few people in my lectures that haven’t seen me in my glasses and I think I am sacred of how they will react to me wearing them. However, yesterday my friend entered the room, exclaimed. ‘you’re wearing glasses’ and then sat down next to me without mentioning it again and life continued as normal.
I think that as a society we instantly make a decision about people based on their appearance, first the face is taken into account, and afterwards the body shape and clothes that are worn. Maybe this is why I and so many other girls spend a lot of time perfecting their make- up technique for going out. I don’t normally wear make- up during the day unless there is a particular social situation in which I feel it is needed but when I go out I put a whole face of it on. In clubs, your body is lost in amongst the bodies of others, so I suppose that the face is the best representation of who you are in this situation. Especially to boys whose eye you might drunkenly catch. I have, thankfully, given up on catching boys eyes on nights out, especially seeing as I always seem to catch the eyes of a boy that I didn’t intend and the one I was aiming for waltzes away oblivious. So many awkward situations to be had.
I’m sure that my eye will heal up and when it does I will probably go back to taking my contact lenses for granted again. This time though, I will have this post to refer back to and remind me of how silly I am.