March 26, 2010

Optical Inspirations

Edith Head, Gloria Steinem, and Grace Kelly

I've worn glasses since I was in second grade. Although I also had contacts by the time I was 13, I've always considered spectacles to be a large component of my visual identity. This aspect of personal style became significant to me as a young adult because I was involved in a subculture that valued bookish, studied, intellectualism. It wasn't afraid of being called nerdy.
 Michael Caine and Jean Luc Godard

I was listening to music from the riot grrl and punk scene and began reading feminist theories that taught me about objectification and the politics of looking. 
 
Glasses became a theoretical starting point from where to reject normative standards of beauty.
 Malcolm X and Kurt Cobain 

They allowed me to have more control over not only how I saw the world, but also how I was objectified by the gazes of others. I considered them to provide visual shorthand; a sign that signified my subcultural affiliations and intellectual interests to other likeminded young women and men.
Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Chisholm
Peter Sellers and Marcello Mastroianni

To this day, when I do wear my contacts, it is disorienting. Not only can I see peripherally with the help of the contacts, but I feel like something is missing from my face. I feel naked without my glasses.
 Anouk Aimee
And I continue to draw optical inspiration from the precious and rare bespectacled icons of visual cultural history.

2 comments:

Michael Hoffman said...

Love all of these pictures, Jess! I just had a conversation with someone about the fact that I can't imagine not wearing glasses. I guess putting something on your face all day very day for years makes a psychological mark.

Jesspgh said...

Thanks Michael! I feel very conspicuous without glasses and I do think there's something behaviorist and psychological about the act of putting them on every day. They almost feels like a mask though not in way that hides you. Just in a way that constitutes the self differently than those glasses-less days.

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