I haven’t worn glasses in 14 years. Last week, my eye doctor told me I have an eye infection and need to wear my glasses for about a week while using prescription drops in my left eye. This was basically like telling me I was now the Queen of the Bog of Eternal Stench. But I prefer having my eye sight so I sucked it up, went and bought new frames with my current prescription and debut my new look this week.
No one noticed.
The reason I never wore my glasses is because when I bought new Tina Fey style frames my freshman year of high school, I loved them and wore them to class. No one knew who I was. Once I had gotten contacts, it was all I wore so when I put on my specs, no one in the sea of high school hallways knew my face, even when I said hello. I was scarred for life. I assumed I just looked so completely different and possibly unattractive that I really should stick to wearing the glasses in the safety of my own home or sleepovers.
Today, everyone has glasses. EVERYONE. Which is why no one noticed me sporting a pair. A few of my coworkers said they looked cute and they really liked the frames. One even asked if they were prescription because today, people wear glasses FOR FASHION. I’m sorry…WHAT? No one said “Oh my god, I didn’t know you wore glasses!” I would have even taken a “Nerd alert!” but instead I got “Oh hey, sexy Lois Lane.” It was surreal. It was as if “She’s All That” had never existed!
While I can appreciate a society that accepts the seeing impaired, I was thrown back. What happened to glasses being what losers wore? Was there no structure of coolness in this current world? And then it hit me. After watching “21 Jump St” for a second time, I realized the tables have turned. Nerds, or what used to be thought of as nerds, have seized the day. They are the top of the social food chain now. It finally happened. No longer are we fascinated with the popular rich kids. We want to know more about the nerds, the geeks, and the dorks. We want to be them.
Let’s review the classic aforementioned “She’s All That.” Laney Boggs is a ‘loser’. She wears glasses, hair pulled back, paint all over her clothes. She’s an activist, an artist, a responsible big sister, a go-getter. She was uncool. Zach Siler is a jock, a handsome student council president with a slutty girlfriend and no real goals. He’s smart but doesn’t like to talk about the Ivy League colleges he was accepted to because prom is more important. This was 1999.
Today, Laney would be the cool, popular chick. She would be a vegan who watches documentaries and goes to protests. Her glasses would be fashionable (and seriously, her frames are the style everyone is wearing right now) and her art would be respected and admired. She would be a shoe in for Prom Queen because every girl would want her confidence and determination and individuality. Ponytails would be the new sock buns. (Can someone please explain this sock bun thing to me? I’m really lost as to why every girl is wearing one). While we still have movies like “Heathers” and “Pretty in Pink” where popularity and nerds clash and the underdog prevails, it was never leaked into society. They were just stories where we rooted for the geeks but in the end knew the popular cliques still ruled our lives and we wanted to still be one of them.
It’s cool now to know about scifi and fantasy. When before events like ComicCon were unknown to the majority of society, they now are talked about among varying social circles from nerds to jocks to Wall St. People I never expected to see cosplay have dressed up at Frodo Baggins or Dany Targaryen and marched down 34th St to the ComicCon venue. Shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Games of Thrones” are the most popular shows on television. I’m thrilled this has happened but at the same time find myself possessive and insecure that the things I loved and seemed more obscure are now mainstream and talked about 24/7. It’s like when your favorite band sells out. It’s great because now everyone can hear the music you always loved but you lose that hipster vibe you held onto so dearly. You find yourself starting to say things like “Oh well I read The Walking Dead comics before it was cool” and sounding like the douche you never thought you’d be.
Speaking of, comics are cool now. Did you get that memo? It’s highly revered if you know your comic book and graphic novel shit. Hold your own in a convo about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore: YOU ARE A GOD. It’s no longer rare for girls to like comics and fantasy either which is disappointing to me. Yes, I am a taken lady but I feel sorry for the other geek girls that used their knowledge of Star Wars and The Long Halloween to bag dudes in bars when the dudes were sick of hearing about “Gossip Girl.” We used to be a dime a dozen but now any chick with glasses and combat boots can recite the oath the men of the Wall say when they take the black.
It’s cool to be healthy. I mean, it always has been and always should be but currently being vegan or vegetarian is the bees knees. I find myself talking about the cons of processed foods and pros of paleo diets and giving up meat at least 5 times a week. I’m not bad mouthing it by any means. I think it’s phenomenal that the entire city of New York seems to be into eating well and exercising and knowing what we put into our bodies. But if you can’t discuss the benefits of kale and have 5 different recipes for vitamin packed smoothies, you can’t sit with us.
I like this shift in social status but I am still hesitant. I’m sure my parents went through the same thing when they were turning 30 and saw how youth had flipped itself around and every day felt like opposite day. Gone are the days when glasses were unattractive and braces were a prison sentence. Now glasses can be worn without even a prescription and everyone has Invisalign. Heroines in movies like “The Princess Diaries” and “10 Things I Hate About You” wouldn’t have to struggle to get the guy. Their glasses and imaginations and activist passions would bring all the boys to the yard. I mean, hell, “The Big Bang Theory” is a show all about nerds and it’s one of the top watched shows in the country.
Life isn’t about popularity and status any more. It’s about goals and healthy living and movies and books that stimulate your mind and broaden your imagination. It’s the world I’ve always wanted to live in so why am I having a hard time adjusting? I suppose it’s because it was ingrained in me what was cool and what was not cool and it’s hard to let go and realize that everyone now wants to be like I always was. I am glad my people are having their time to shine. I’m thrilled games of D&D are running rampant and we can have hour long conversations about zombie survival while waiting tables. I love that I can talk about the origins of Peter Pan and people are into it. I can ask almost any one what their Patronus is and they will respond with a thought out and well chosen answer. Winter is coming…the nerds have won.