Most children experience bullying at some point in their lives. I can honestly say I have both been the victim of and have victimized others before. Although my bullying came in the form of an awkward prepubescent girl not inviting other girls to their birthday party because they were mean to me (still, a cruel thing to do, and I am sorry). Nevertheless, I was bullied most as a young child because I wore glasses.
Glasses. One of the most classic forms of bullying. My eyes did not stand a chance at seeing clearly – both my parents wear glasses and are virtually blind without them. In first grade I remember having an eye test in the nurses office and her telling me to take a note home to my parents. This was followed by a second eye exam at the doctor’s office. My dad took me. I vividly remember the entire experience. I sat in a chair next to my daddy until the doctor came back with a giant smile on his face. He told me I was going to get to wear glasses! I remember tears starting to form in the back of my eyes as I tried to hold it in (I was never one for crying in public) and the doctor leaving the room. When he left my dad looked at me with his closed-mouth smile and said something to the effect of, “Now you’re going to be just like me.” I was 6 years old. I started crying.
I crawled on the floor and cried and told me dad I didn’t want glasses – that I’d never wear them. His comment of me being just like him only worsened my feeling about glasses – not because I did not want to be like him, because in every aspect of my life I am my father – but because of things I had heard people say. I come from a giant hispanic family, my mother has ten siblings and my father has five. We are not a very private family, to say the least. You learned to be tough in my family, or suffer the endless jokes my cousins and uncles would aim at you. As a little girl I remembered my uncles always making fun of my dad for being a 4-eyes and a nerd, my dad just brushing it off and laughing, knowing it was not to be taken seriously. Yet these words stuck in my mind like glue, and I feared the same happening to me.
I cried when I wore my glasses for the first time. (Admittedly, I was amazed at how well I could see and actually told my dad I didn’t know you could see individual leaves on the trees before). My mom and dad helped me pick them out and swore I looked beautiful. I didn’t want to go to school with glasses. What would my friends think? I was the only one with glasses. How would I play basketball with glasses? Would I still get invited to birthday parties? These questions and more circulated through my mind over and over again. I was picked on for my glasses. People laughed and called me names, though I never told anyone. It was the first time in my memory I was bullied.
I didn’t tell anyone because as a 6-year old girl I didn’t want anyone to know it bothered me. I didn’t want my uncles to know it bothered me when they made fun of my dad but not me – I had glasses too, I was equally a nerd. And so I grew up wearing all sorts of glasses. Some particularly cute on a young girl, others terrible looking and I’m not quite sure how my mother let me ever wear them. When I was in 6th grade I got contacts, and I never wore glasses to school again. I wore them at home before bed and in the mornings – but never in public. In high school I gained a bit more confidence and wore them in front of friends at tournaments or at sleepovers, but never all day. It was not until college where I became comfortable wearing my glasses all the time. I wore them to class, in the dorms, and out with friends. My glasses had finally stopped being something I was ashamed of or something I tried to hide.
You see I realized, that in order for me to be comfortable with my glasses, I first needed to my comfortable with myself. So comfortable and happy with myself, that the insults and blows that are thrown at me will brush right off and disappear forever. Just the other day, I wore my glasses to work at for the first time, and a young 6-year old girl made fun of my glasses. She pointed and laughed at them and then whispered something to the boy sitting next to her. When I walked over and asked her what was funny, she said my glasses. I was taken aback for the moment and transported to my own elementary years when my classmates made fun of me, and I saw them in her. But this time, I was ready. This time, I was confident. I smiled at the little girl and told her that maybe my glasses are funny, but I like them, and it wasn’t very nice to laugh at people.
I love my glasses because each day they allow me to experience the joys of my life that I would otherwise be blind to. It took me a long time to realize this. Too long. We live in a society where laughing and making fun of one other is a norm. Realize that your actions affect everyone around you. As a little girl without glasses, I watched as my father was teased for wearing giant glasses. And although those words were not directed towards me personally, they stuck with me. So much so that when it came time for me to get glasses, as a 6-year old, I was already tainted. My innocence was stripped, and I feared being bullied before it even occurred.
My parents were right, I am beautiful with glasses and beautiful without them. Glasses do not define who I am, but my glasses are apart of me. I need them to witness the wonderful world around me. My glasses are definitely worth keeping.