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How eyeglasses can empower the wearer

Author, Brianti Browning wearing eyeglasses

Back in the early ‘90s, Scooby-Doo flitted across my television screen. He and the gang were solving a mystery, probably a pair of fake ghosts haunting a mansion as part of an inheritance plot or a knight scaring away guests at an art museum to cover up a forgery scheme.

Whatever the episode, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy spent it running in fear, Velma trying to piece together clues, Fred trying to get everyone on the same page and Daphne either complaining or getting kidnapped. Meanwhile, I spent those 30 minutes sitting about a foot away from the screen.

In a matter of a few weeks, the couch seemed just too far away. Sitting by the coffee table worked for a little while, but then the figures were still too blurry. So, I started sitting cross-legged right in front of the screen.

My mother, who had been wearing glasses since about the age of 6, the same age I was at the time, knew exactly what it meant.

She made an appointment at the eye doctor, a place I instantly loved.

My first trip to the eye doctor

Here’s something to know about my 6-year-old self — I was an advanced reader with an excellent memory, things I liked to show off whenever I could.

So, when my mother brought me to a place where I could show the doctor how well I knew my alphabet (the visual acuity test, aka the eye chart) and the grasp I had on my numbers (the refraction test, aka when they ask you “one or two?” over and over), it seemed too good to be true.

My first pair of eyeglasses

When everything was said and done, I got a lollipop and then I was fitted for a pair of eyeglasses.

That marked the end of my non-bespectacled life. I proudly put on my four eyes every day and could finally see clearly for the first time in my memory. I recall being amazed at how much sharper the chalkboard looked in class.

Trying and losing my contact lenses

I’ve had a few stints with contact lenses, mostly because I wanted the option to wear different pairs of sunglasses. Unfortunately for my parents’ finances, I couldn’t keep up with contacts for long.

I’d have a few good months, wearing my contact lenses to class almost every day with a corresponding pair of sunglasses from Aéropostale. Then, I’d somehow lose the case with them inside on a class trip or drop one on the floor, never to be seen again.

I eventually gave up on contact lenses for about seven years, deciding this option to help me see clearly just wasn’t something I was responsible enough to own.

That changed earlier this year, though, when I headed to Cuba for a trip. I knew I’d be out in the sun for hours, so I wanted my eyes protected. I packed and wore my contact lenses on the trip, but I have barely worn them since.

I feel like I’ve finally found a balance that works for me now. I only wear contacts if I’ll be in the sun for long periods of time or on special occasions. Otherwise, I stick with my glasses.

Feeling at home in my glasses

A part of the reason I don’t grab the contacts too often is because I feel more like myself when I am wearing my eyeglasses. I somehow feel smarter, more confident and more in control of my surroundings (maybe partially because I can actually see my surroundings) better than when I wear contacts.

Maybe it’s because during those younger years when I learned more about the person I was and made the steps to become who I wanted to be, I did it all while wearing my eyeglasses.

My glasses somehow feel like a natural extension of myself, and I love to express who I am through them. 

Springing for designer frames

I wouldn’t call myself a glam girl, although some of my friends probably would, but I love designer duds. I don’t have the budget for a lot of the designers I’d like to wear, but my glasses give me the opportunity to get around it.

I definitely can’t afford anything from Versace, but thanks to the contribution I get from my vision insurance and a little money from me, I have a pair of Versace glasses. Before this pair, I had Coach glasses and before that, I bought some Elizabeth and James (a company created by Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen at the height of their fashion fame) frames.

While my clothing budget may be stuck at Old Navy and Target prices for now, I love how my glasses give me something I want until the day when I can afford to have a closet full of Versace.

Empowered by my eyeglasses

I’ve never had a moment when I didn’t absolutely love wearing my glasses, no matter what the kids said on the playground or how many compliments I received when wearing my contact lenses.

I grew up in the age of nerds on TV, like Steve Urkel, whose main claims to geekdom and awkwardness were their spectacles, but it’s never been my experience at all.

If anything, I find my glasses empowering.

You can keep your contact lenses and LASIK surgeries, I’ll stick with my glasses. 


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