I am a creature of habit, looks-wise. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've cut my hair short, and still have enough digits left to send a text-message. I wear jackets even if fashion dictates sweaters, I avoid pointy-toed shoes altogether, and I never, ever wear green or yellow.
I have worn red eyeglasses since I was in my twenties, but don't write me off as rigid. There's actually a lot of room to maneuver within that class of eyewear, as a review of some of my favorites will attest: Big plastic frames, tiny round ones, tops only, stern rectangles, sunglasses. The important thing is that they are always red, and always in the range from blood red to burgundy. Nary a screamy red among them.
It has nothing to do with how other people perceive me; my computer glasses are red, and nobody sees me when I'm writing. It has to do with knowing, since that little sweater and matching scarf in the third grade, that red was a good color for a dark-haired girl with dark eyes. It feels right. It's as close as I get to an eternal fashion statement.
So you can imagine how I ambivalent I feel about a disturbing trend I've noticed of late: Women who have waved farewell to their thirties seem to think that red glasses are some kind of political statement, the optical equivalent of Helen Reddy belting 'I am woman, hear me roar.' Everywhere I turn there's another gal with expression lines [I think that's the euphemism], dyed hair, and a honking pair of red glasses, usually from the wilder side of the red spectrum, from poppy on out to orange. And we're not talking classical style - no, I've seen flaming titanium with little screws in contrasting colors, I've seen stripes, I've seen styles that would shame a neo-punk college drop-out.
What's the deal here?
I'm guessing that the intention is to let onlookers know that the wearer of red glasses is not going gently into that good night. No, the woman in bright-red glasses is advertising all those things that red traditionally has signified, with the volume turned way up: Passion, vitality, health, dare we say it, sexuality. The woman in bright-red glasses is ready to live life to the fullest, and the best way she can convey that, it seems, is to sport glasses that work overtime to compensate for mortality.
The lady doth protest too much, indeed. I'd argue that the wild-and-crazy eyeglasses make us look like we're trying way too hard not to be who we are. A while ago I saw a woman in a restaurant wearing a velour hoodie and low-slung sweatpants, all very snug, and across her butt were satin letters that spelled out, "Juicy." My personal feeling is that this outfit looks ridiculous even on girls who are too young to drive, so I'm biased - but it certainly didn't enhance the features of a woman old enough to be one of those girl's grandma.
I take offense at magazine articles about "appropriate" fashion for various age groups, because I'm not about to let some invisible editorial board tell me it's time to give up my cherished 501s. That's not what's going on here. Some of us are sporting new red glasses because we're terrified, in our heart of hearts, that we are marginal members of an ageist society, and we're doing backflips to prove that we're still worth talking to. Trouble is, if enough women start wearing them, the plan's going to backfire. Snazzy red glasses will be as good as a sandwich board that says "I'm tentative, I'm worried, I'm overcompensating."
We're better than that. I'm about due for a new set of frames, and I'm starting to think that dark blue is very, very cool.