It’s time to destroy the ‘ugly girl with glasses’ myth forever


If you’re a girl who wears glasses you’ve probably heard some kind of nasty comment about them being a detriment to your appearance at some point in your life. Or someone has recanted the helpful rhyme “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” to you. Or you’ve grown up on a steady diet of teen movies where the main character isn’t beautiful, popular or worthy of anyone’s time until she gets contact lenses and straightens her hair.

For us it was probably the 90s and 00s classics: She’s All That, Never Been Kissed, D’Vine in Drive Me Crazy, Miss Congeniality, Jawbreaker, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Princess Diaries, the list goes on. But actually it goes back much further than that. In fact a tweet by Dr Andrew Porwitzky, a physicist, which has since gone viral, tracks the trope way back to the 50s, quoting a critique of Hollywood in Isaac Asimov’s essay ‘The Cult of Ignorance’.

Seeing it written down, it’s easy to realise just how much that Hollywood technique has imprinted on teenage girls. Despite knowing better, there was a part of me which really believed getting contacts would instantly transform me, granting me some Rachael Leigh Cook in the red dress, walking downstairs to meet Freddie Prinze Jr. I still refuse to go out anywhere social while wearing glasses. There are probably a handful of photos of me wearing them, but stacks of me vaguely squinting because I’ve whipped them off instantly when someone’s taken out a camera.

Frankly though, the attitude is archaic and we should kick the last vestiges of it squarely out of fashion. Glasses are cool now. Honestly. Jess Day wears glasses. Cara Delevingne wears glasses. Glasses are what helped the St Trinian’s posh totty triumph in University Challenge. They deserve a renaissance.

With that in mind, we asked some beautiful girls with glasses to explain exactly why the “ugly girl with glasses becomes popular” trope is complete bullshit.

Samantha Feinberg, UConn

I was sexy Harry Potter for Halloween including glasses and cat.

Saskia Bamber, Bristol

This totally blighted my teenage years. No joke – when I got contacts people behaved as though I had undergone some kind of makeover. Glasses really don’t make that big a difference to your face. Although I am blind without them so if you do the annoying thing where you want to try on my glasses, know that you can’t handle it (although I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the confused flinch when people try).

Sarah Evelyn George, Sussex

If people can’t handle the fact that some people don’t have perfect eyesight and hair, they are the ones who are ugly on the inside. A girl taking off her glasses and straightening her hair doesn’t change who she is, it just lets her see how shallow you are.

Charlotte Torode, Bristol

When I tell people that I could wear contact lenses if I wanted to but choose not to they look at me like I’ve just confessed to some grisly crime. For some reason a couple of extra black lines on your face is only attractive when it’s winged eyeliner. Nowadays people are so concerned with hiding imperfections, and glasses do the exact opposite and highlight one (shit vision). But that shouldn’t be an excuse to stigmatise them.

Millie Olivia Sansoye, Exeter

I’ve worn glasses since I was five. I don’t understand why everyone thinks that saying you look better without glasses is a compliment. They’re an extension of me, another way to express myself and more importantly, they allow me to see. Glasses are, quite frankly, a godsend. And I look beautiful with or without them on.

Lydia Brown, York

I’ve worn glasses since I was a baby and I think this is so stupid. For a start, everyone prefers me with glasses anyway but even if they didn’t I prefer myself with glasses. Also I’m genuinely blind without them so I don’t honestly care if people don’t like them because they are a necessity! Ultimately I think they give me confidence for some reason and that probably makes me more attractive anyway.

Annabel Murphy, Manchester

I started wearing glasses when I was 14. I went off to a new school with new glasses, braces and dorky haircut. I used to be afraid of looking bad in them, so I would take them off whenever I could, which just meant I had headaches a lot of the time. Now people are always asking to try them on and think it’s cool, I agree. Being able to see is pretty cool.

Ece Ozcan, Royal Holloway

Glasses are fucking amazing and there is no such thing that will definitely make you beautiful or ugly when you wear them. And there are so many people (including me) that cannot see without their glasses.

Katie Weston, Cardiff

I’ve worn glasses since I was seven. I hated wearing them during secondary because of the stigma attached to them (plus my face didn’t suit the big stylish frames) so wore contact lenses at the age of 11. I hated wearing glasses around halls and would try to avoid my flatmates as everyone always said they made me look ‘young’, but then a year ago I got a really bad eye infection from my contacts and had to wear them for two months.

After that I stopped caring about wearing them out and about to lectures and in my uni house (plus I went and bought some banging Gok Wan frames).