Today was the first day I was asked that question —
“Oh! Those glasses are so cute!!! Are they real?”
This frequently asked question upsets a lot of parents of kids with glasses. Why would we put glasses on a baby who doesn’t need them? I think the underlying frustration lies in the fact that some stranger is assuming that the glasses are as trivial as a fashion statement, while to us, they represent all the underlying emotions that come with the territory of having a child with a visual impairment.
By asking that question, they’re so clearly out of touch with what we’re going through. Maybe there’s a touch of resentment — envy even — that this stranger has never had to deal with this, and that to them, glasses are just a fun accessory.
Maybe it’s painful for some because it’s a reminder that no — this isn’t a costume. This isn’t for fun. This is for life.
This question doesn’t make me angry. I get it — it’s an ignorant comment. But, I think there’s a difference between ignorance and malice. You can be ignorant without being mean, and maybe all that’s needed to address those comments is an honest response.
“Yes, they’re real. She was born with Aniridia, a rare eye condition that affects 1 in 100,000 people.” This is an education and awareness opportunity. This is a response that will help people be more understanding of Ruby’s unique way of seeing the world.
Maybe one day I’ll get tired of hearing it, but right now, I can see both sides.
Why? I know I’ve been guilty of similar statements in the past. It’s easy to comment on the obvious observation — let’s call it the “obv-servation” (obv = short for obviously… obviously):
“Wow! You’re really tall.”
“Is your hair really that curly? Can I touch it?”
“You look tired.”
“Those glasses are so cute! Are they real?”
The obv-servation is the first thing that comes out of our mouths when we see something we’re not used to. Sometimes it comes out before we have time to process if it’s offensive. I’m sure tall people get tired of people telling them they’re tall as if they’ve never heard it before. I’ve never made an obv-servation to be mean. It’s just something that sometimes comes out, and something we can try to be more aware of.
All that said, I also think it’s pretty neat that glasses are an “it” accessory. I like the idea that Ruby can be proud of her stylish specs and rock them in her own little way. If someone assumes they’re for fashion, they’re saying she’s fashionable, and they’re totally right. She is! This may not be for fun, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.