Saturday, 19 January 2013

Four Eyes

Disclaimer: I wear glasses. I have worn them for more than half of my life. I can get away with taking them off. I'm not wearing them right now, but I wouldn't dare drive without them and movies just look better with them on. I've also had my share of battles with acne.

Today rant is about the notion that glasses make you look smarter and who looks like a real nerd with glasses on. This is partially triggered by this combination of images. And I apologize in advance if anyone here is triggered too.

I am growing weary of the notion that 'nerds' are sexy and that it's become a fashion statement. In someways Big Bang Theory and the rise of geek culture has only fanned these flames. I have nothing against either of these things. I love the show, I'm a proud geek about many things, and I think intellect is a serious turn on. However, social awkwardness and visual impairment are not fashion statements. They are not a persona you can just slip into because it's trendy. You can't just put on a pair of glasses and call it "geek chique" nor should you post pictures of yourself wearing said specs on the internet and caption it "I'm a nerd now, lol!"

It's one of the most distasteful things you can do, topping that off is contrasting that level of stupidity by posting it with an image of a supposedly "real nerd". That dude with the acne, braces and glasses might not have even been a nerd. I can promise you he was probably socially awkward only because I was once a teenager and we were all like that to some degree, but people grow out of these things. And this guy may or may not feel good about this photo from their childhood being used to point out how silly it is to think Geek is a fashion choice.

I have news for you. Neither person in that photo set is a nerd. The woman in the top image is someone with macular degeneration (or pretending to for the trendiness of it), the boy in the bottom image is just that, a boy. He may have had interesting intellectual pursuits or solitary hobbies, maybe he played with model air planes or video games. Maybe not.

Maybe he was dumb as a post.  Maybe the woman has a PhD. I don't know that for sure. And neither do you.

And that's the point.

Some people choose to wear glasses (instead of contacts). Some people have acne (most of us grow out of it eventually). Some people get braces. This is not the nerd trifecta. Having glasses does not make you smarter. Having acne does not make you a socially awkward out cast who will forever be alone. Having braces will only be painful and put cob corn and apples on the no-no list, it will not enhance your IQ or make you less interesting.

I grow weary of "geek chique". It's based on the assumption that anyone who wears glasses must obviously feel inferior about it, so let's give them some time in the sun for once. As if all the bullies in school that went into marketing suddenly felt bad about picking on the kids with glasses and braces and decided that they would do geek culture a favour by making them fashionable and desirable for once.

There's an uglier side of this as well. Not just those whose glasses were just a part of their daily life, but the sudden surge of love for geeky guys, or at least the appearance of them. The notion has been proposed that these girls don't love geeky guys, if they were put in a room with a bunch of guys who had raging cystic acne and coke-bottle glasses, they'd be exposed for the frauds they are. Which just reinforces the stereotype that all true nerds, geeks, dorks and dweebs will only ever truly be those that are cursed with poor skin/crazy hormones or who've inherited their parents' macular degeneration.


I don't care what you look like, how thick your glasses are or the condition of your skin or whether or not you were born with perfect straight teeth. These things are irrelevant. What makes you a geek or a nerd is how passionate you are about something. Anything. It's intellect and passion for something that defines which of the aforementioned adjectives you want to use to describe yourself. And if you don't want to use any of them, good for you. You don't have to and no one has the right to affix one of them to you. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the hardware on your face.

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