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Why everyone wants to wear glasses and be a geek these days

By Jane Graham

Published 12/02/2016

High spec: Johnny Depp is a prolific glasses wearer
High spec: Johnny Depp is a prolific glasses wearer

I finally went to the opticians this week. My committing to an appointment was a Christmas gift for my husband, who has been listening to me promise to go "next week" for over a decade. A decade of knowing I had the wrong prescription and was borderline actually blind.

My phobia of the opticians is, I think, entirely reasonable. Not just because some of my earliest memories are of being strapped into that black leather torture throne and having bright lights shone into my eyes like I was withholding Brezhnev's nuclear plans.

Even worse, as I got older, was the realisation of what wearing those jam jars meant for my social and romantic life. It was the end of any idea of playing a sport which involved a ball (ie all decent high school sports).

It ruled me out of fashion - what was the point of boldly embracing the ra-ra skirt when all anyone noticed was my ugly face invaders?

Experimenting with make-up? A kind of tragic denial. Glasses gave one thing: a free pass into the losers' gang. Welcome to Speccygeeksville, population; me.

Well, not any more. Nothing could have prepared me for this; my optician told me one of her biggest challenges was working out which teenage girls were faking bad eyesight in order to get their hands on the new Prada glasses. "Everyone wants to be a geek these days," she sighed.

I'm not making this up, readers over 30. Hipster teenage girls are competing over designer specs like we (not the non-sporting me, but almost everyone else) once secured kudos via Nike trainers.

I reckon it was Hermione who triggered the trend and Emma Watson continues to be a prolific glasses wearer. Twilight's Kirsten Stewart fronted the recent Chanel ads.

My daughter tells me mouth braces are "cute" now, too. No longer regarded as impositions upon the blighted, in 2016 these limited edition (only the truly suffering qualify for ownership) correctors are cult items for the fashionably imperfect.

And never has imperfection been so fashionable. Weirdness, difference, all that is culturally counter-intuitive is now mainstream cool. Get onto YouTube (aka TV for the under-20s); you can't move for dorky boys and girls like Zoella and Dan & Phil telling their multi-million teenage audience how unpopular they were at school, how rubbish they were at sport, how the kings and queens of the playground bullied them and called them nerds.

Finally, Bob Dylan's famous 1964 line "there's no success like failure" has some currency. Some of the biggest celebrities in the business - Watson, Stewart, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Lena Dunham, supermodel de jour Cara Delevingne - gleefully parade their dysfunctional outsider "freak" credentials.

Geek subculture standards of old, like Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars, and just about every Marvel and DC superhero you can think of, have been rebooted to conquer the mainstream. New oddballs, like the Big Bang Theory guys, and YouTube supergamers like PewDiePie and Athlone's Jacksepticeye draw audiences of millions.

You can even buy a doll of Gerard Way, singer in the now-defunct My Chemical Romance and one-time herdsman of emo miserablists all over the world.

This is all very healthy and to be applauded as, though it is still often (not always) clouded by a struggle to give up on beauty and slimness, the general message, of doing and being your own thing, is a good one.

The only issue is how to stand out if you are of a genuinely contrary disposition. The new counterculture, it seems to me, is to be an affable, optimistic Coldplay fan with 20/20 vision and perfect teeth. A tough call, but some daredevil will brave it.

Romance is not all about the money

This week’s poll to find the “most romantic line in film” revealed I’m not the only one who cries every time I watch Sense and Sensibility and an overwhelmed Marianne (Emma Thompson, above) collapses with emotion when Hugh Grant’s Edward reveals he isn’t married, gravely stating, “My heart is, and always will be, yours”.

There were other crackers in the top 10, from Wuthering Heights and Far From the Madding Crowd.

This was a women-only poll. Probably a good thing; when I expressed surprise that the famous line from Jerry Maguire (“You had me at hello”) wasn’t mentioned my husband said, “Ah yeah — ‘Show me the Money’.” Be still my beating heart.

Lies, damned lies and Trump

Next time I’m negotiating with my kids over bedtime, or what constitutes a healthy snack (I say it’s a no to Snickers, despite the nuts), I must give Donald Trump a call.

He has a fantastic system; just say any old thing you’ve made up (like most white murder victims are killed by black people; in fact it’s around 15%) and state it as fact.

When you’re later contradicted with a genuine fact, simply wave it away — you know the guys you’re appealing to won’t read the small print, they’ll just remember your first, headline-making statement.

I’m going to tell my son apples make you better at Minecraft.

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