It’s Time to Talk About Tropes #1: Glasses

Four-eyes.  “Why don’t you get contacts?”  Poindexter.  “Would you punch a guy with glasses?”

The tropes surrounding characters who wear glasses are well-worn, firmly entrenched things: the nerd pushing up his with one finger at the bridge of his nose, nervously; the brainiac girl who gets infinitely more attractive as soon as she takes hers off; the old lady who keeps her reading glasses on a beaded string around her neck and puts them on to peer disapprovingly at her grandchildren.

I wear glasses, I have since I was in junior high, and I happen to think I look better with them than without, so the ugly-with/pretty-without dichotomy in particular needs to die a fiery death.

When I sat down to think about main characters, dare I say heroes, who couldn’t be neatly pigeonholed into a classic glasses trope…well, I haven’t read everything, but I could only come up with Harry Potter.  His round-framed specs are iconic, and he’s certainly no nerd.

(As a persistent object in the story, Rowling’s treatment of Harry’s glasses is actually quite good.  He uses them in gestures often enough to seem realistic without being heavy-handed, and in situations where they would present problems, like getting wet in the rain during Quidditch, the issue gets addressed, not ignored.  I was always impressed with that.)

So, to set about fixing this dire lack of glasses representation in non-nerd form, allow me to present some glasses prompts for the romantically inclined:

(I’ve defaulted to he/she pairings for ease of pronouns, but of course, feel free to ascribe any gender combination in your own version.)

  • She’s upset and needs a good long hug, so he takes off her glasses carefully–the right way, with both hands–and sets them down nearby.  When she feels better and moves away, she twists around looking for them, but he’s already handing them back to her because he knows she’s uncomfortable when she can’t see clearly.
  • He makes a joke about how women always say he’s more handsome without his glasses, and takes them off so she can laugh and agree.  But she cocks her head, considers for a moment, then answers, well I don’t know who they were looking at, because you’re hot either way, and I actually prefer the glasses.
  • (school-age) She breaks her glasses so badly no tape can fix them, so he keeps hold of her hand in the hallways in between classes so she doesn’t get disoriented, and later he copies over the day’s notes for her since she couldn’t see the board clearly in class.  (Yeah, okay, that actually did happen to me once, but we weren’t dating, and unfortunately for me, never did end up dating.  He was so sweet…)
  • She pushes his glasses up his forehead into his hair and moves to kiss him, and he laughs and jokes that he can kiss just fine with them still on.  She shrugs and says, yeah, maybe, but not the way I was planning on kissing you, taking his face in her hands.
  • When she gets a headache she takes off her glasses and rubs the bridge of her nose, which ends up becoming his signal that she’s stressed and needs a face-and-neck massage to help dispel her tension.  Or, you know, other things that might dispel some tension…

Have some fun with those, everybody.  Give the glasses some love!


6 thoughts on “It’s Time to Talk About Tropes #1: Glasses

      1. He’s definitely an artist. 🙂 And, to be fair, I was thinking nerd in a more positive sense–like pretty much my entire family and friend base. 😀


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