What follows is a letter I wrote to my boyfriend who wanted me to get ‘more attractive’ glasses. But what he didn’t know is that I chose these glasses not to make me look better, but to challenge the onlooker:
I want you to understand something about me. I didn’t buy these glasses because I wanted to look ‘different’. I didn’t buy these glasses because I necessarily wanted to look ‘good’ or conventionally attractive. I didn’t buy these glasses for anyone else to enjoy but myself. To me they are a symbol. They make me feel like Harry Potter, because like him, I am an orphan. Because we only feel accepted in a world where imagination reigns, where love is the oldest form of magic, where knowledge is just as important as bravery and where absurdity is not seen as superfluous, but as an expression of intelligence.
My glasses make me feel like the first female college graduate in the 20s, a cat lady and a witch all rolled into one. Why would I want to feel like those things? Some would see these epithets as insults. But these are only insults to those who don’t see the beauty in female knowledge. These women value female skillsets, as do I. They don’t bother with people pleasing and they always speak their mind. They don’t care whether or not anyone thinks they look sexy. The world assumes this is because they’ve given up; that they are disgruntled or ignorant and have let themselves go. But what if they’ve chosen not to look attractive because they don’t want to encourage people to think of them that way? I have a hard enough time being heard and respected for my opinion, without people being distracted by sexualizing me. The ‘weirder’ I come off, the less I invite random flirtatious looks or comments from strangers/acquaintances. I have never been the kind of woman who appreciates that kind of input, nor have I ever felt particularly comfortable in flirtatious situations, and when engaged thusly by a stranger/acquaintance it makes me question my safety. The only person that I want to see my attractiveness is you.
When it comes to personal development, I have spent a lot of time building my unique and intricate personality and very little time on my outward appearance. I don’t view compliments on my visual appearance as insults, but I do give them very little credence and take even less pride in them. Don’t misunderstand me, I have always thought I was beautiful. If I refer to my physical self derogatorily it is not because I have a low opinion of my appearance but because I do not value my appearance as a qualifying factor. Attaining conventional beauty is a skill, but reflecting your inner beauty is a more difficult one. My ‘ugly’ glasses are a challenge and a test. A way to bar people who are only interested in the surface of me.
People put too much stock in serious things. They classify and solidify the world in their mind to keep fear of the unknown at bay. It makes them feel smart and important to inform others about the ‘way the world works’. But in the process of shoving reality into reasoned and sensical compartments, they shave off the multitude of parts that don’t quite fit. These things are ignored, adamantly. It doesn’t matter what shape those compartments are, it is still a very limiting view of reality. I ask you, who is more intelligent: the person who ignores new information or skews it to fit into their preplanned version of reality, or the person who is open enough to understand it and modify their own views to include it?
My glasses mock these people. Because in flaunting my otherness I challenge their egos to acknowledge that their view of the world is only one in an incalculable set of possibilities. My glasses are a reminder that the organization of the universe will always be tempered by chaos. That even if we understood everything there was to understand, there would still be a remainder: a pile of deformed and misconceived entities that can only be classified as individual. Because life is an ever-changing protean evolution, not from worse to better, not from barbaric to civilized, not from chaos to order, but from circumstance to circumstance. I believe we need classifications to understand the world around us, but I believe they should be a shorthand; a way for us to communicate ideas, not to imprison them.
So I want you to see that these new glasses are not a capitulation, but a mark of my esteem. It means that I am choosing to trust that you appreciate my inner beauty despite your physical attraction to me.