Do Glasses Make You Look Smarter?
Glasses: Geeky or glam?
Vicki Santillano | Divine Caroline
August 19, 2010
It used to be pretty hard being a bespectacled kid. For years, I was inundated with the message that glasses are unequivocally uncool. Movies like She’s All That or The Princess Diaries didn’t help—both leading ladies didn’t get a second look from their guys until their four eyes became two. That’s because glasses were usually equated with brains, not beauty; as cliché as it is now, the phrase “guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” didn’t seem too far from the truth.
Nowadays, glasses aren’t just accepted, they’re downright trendy. Proud glasses-wearers like Tina Fey and Ira Glass make what’s referred to as the “bookish look” seem stylish and sexy. But old stereotypes die hard—after all, 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon may wear hot glasses, but she’s also neurotic and plagued with dating troubles. It makes me wonder how much people’s perceptions of bespectacled individuals have actually changed. What are our glasses—or lack thereof—saying about us now?
Glasses and Geeks: No Proven Connection
Glasses-wearers, rejoice—we’re not really as socially awkward as our poor vision suggests! According to a 2008 study performed at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Eye Research, there’s no correlation between needing glasses and geekiness. They studied twins’ personalities over a four-year period and measured how open, agreeable, extroverted, neurotic, and conscientious they are. Researchers couldn’t establish a link between wearing glasses and being shy or introverted; however, there was a small connection between nearsightedness and being open and agreeable. So wearing glasses does not a geek make—in fact, it may make you a nicer, more easy-going person. (Well, I could’ve told them that!)
Lenses Make Us Look Smarter …
Our glasses may not automatically create social introverts, but they seem to make other people think we’ve constantly got our noses in books. In 2008, researchers from Ohio State University showed eighty kids aged six to ten pictures of both bespectacled and plain-faced children and asked them to rate their attractiveness, sports performance, and whether they’d make good friends. Over 66 percent of those surveyed believed that kids who wore glasses were smarter; 57 percent labeled them as more sincere. In this survey, wearing glasses didn’t make a significant difference in the other categories.
The brainy stereotype extends beyond childhood as well. Adults tend to think of people who wear glasses as more intelligent. Essilor of America, a maker of eyeglass lenses, performed a survey in 2009 asking over 3,000 Americans about their thoughts on glasses. While only 40 percent admitted that glasses make people look smarter, guess what profession 74 percent associate bespectacled individuals with? Librarians! Teachers came in at a close second with 71 percent. Clearly glasses are still synonymous with increased IQs for many people, though they don’t all want to admit it.
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