Glasses Girl

Art by Daniella Herrera-Michaca

By Amita Diarra | Eleanor Roosevelt

The letters “T O Z” are the third row of the Snellen Eye Chart and indicate the vision fraction of 20/70. That is the last row of the chart that is visible to my eyes. I, like my great grandmother, was born with genetic astigmatism rendering our naked eyes to view everything immensely small. Like anyone who does not have 20/20 vision, I was given correctional lenses that increasingly got thicker from the age of three. Outweighing the frame itself, my oblong lenses curve out of their frames. They droop down my nose constantly, forcing me to push them up. Indented in the outer bridge of my nose lay two permanent spots that cry out, “glasses were here!” They magnify my eyes, rendering them to be three times their regular size. Despite what others have told me, I know my glasses are the first thing people notice about me. I knew how people perceived me, not Amita but, glasses girl.

“Are you blind? Your glasses are SO thick! How many fingers am I holding up?” For as long as I can remember, these are the remarks that have affected me and my parents deeply. At the age of four, my parents were told by my tutors not to waste their efforts teaching me how to read because “I would be blind by the age of ten.” Although these comments were unbeknownst to me for years, they would still influence how I looked at myself and my glasses. I began to hate wearing my glasses. I would eat tons of carrots, sit as far from televisions as possible, and eventually went to eye therapy all to strengthen my eyes and decrease my prescription. None of it worked. The only thing it accomplished was a greater fixation on my glasses. I felt completely different from my classmates who did not have glasses like mine. I wondered “Do I have the worst vision ever?” and “where did all the TV characters with thick glasses go?” Those questions and feelings continued to middle school but, fortunately, my fixation dwindled as I entered my teens. At the age of sixteen, I learned that my vision affects how long it takes for my mind to process complex images. Despite this new information, new confidence began to blossom within me, which steadily increased in high school. I saw myself as more than, “a girl who looks smart because of her glasses” but, as someone with passions and hobbies. As the people around me stopped paying attention to my glasses so did I. My peers’ maturity provided me with more confidence and assurance with my glasses. This new-found confidence allowed me to pursue other things. My love for fashion, music, and photography all began to take on a larger role in my life. After wearing glasses for fourteen years, I can say, I barely remember that I wear them. Now I am Amita, the girl who likes politics, fashion, playing trumpet, and photography and also happens to wear glasses.

Although I still get those ignorant remarks, now I handle them with ease, replying with a sarcastic, “ yes, I am blind”or a bewildering, “six fingers?” I am no longer ashamed to state that I cannot read something because of the text size or my distance from the board. My glasses have increased my confidence in how others perceive me. Throughout my life, my glasses have attracted unwanted attention to myself. The remarks and stares have taught me not to look for validation in strangers, because their opinions do not matter and therefore should not influence my perception of myself. I am cognizant of my ever-decreasing vision but, I try not to get distracted with things that are out of my control and be thankful for the state of my vision in the present. I say goodbye to glasses girl and hello, to Amita.