Episode Information

CMS: Making a Spectacle of Yourself
Share this Content

In this episode:

How do eyeglasses influence social identity?


Episode Audio

49:31 minutes (23.77 MB)
Download this Episode

I got my glasses in the third grade. They're an accessory for me the way my spleen is an accessory for me.

Eyeglasses send all kinds of messages, but we're not always sure what they are. The synergy between a face, its underlying personality and the frames you slide over the ears is pretty complicated. So we thought we'd try to unpack it all today with a diverse panel, including two hip young women who blog about eyewear, a guy who runs a trendy frames shop, a news anchor kind of famous for wearing eyewear when nobody else did, a historian of eyeglasses, one of our young essayists from The CuT magazine, and, very possibly, if the mood strikes him ... our own Bruce Barber.

It's a busy show, but we'll also find time for you. How does eyewear speak to you? Is is sexy? Trendy? Nerdy? Scholarly? What sort of entanglements have your own eyeglasses led you into? Or is it all a big nearsighted blur?.

You can join the conversation. Leave your comments below, e-mail [email protected] or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

***This broadcast originally aired January 8, 2010.***

Related Content:

Listener E-mail from Millie

What's with the "librarian" stereotypes? What does it mean to look like a librarian? As a librarian I reject this image and you should, too as it is a tired negative insult. Perhaps you should visit a library and educate yourself.

Listener E-mail from Bev

I have tri-focal titanium, no frame glasses because my sinus headaches are bothered by eyeglass frames.  These still bother me, light as they are but I can not have lasik or contacts.  I would if I could.

Now, my brother who is older had lasik, now does not need glasses and looks older without them because you can see the wrinkles and bags.

Listener E-mail from RK

As a dating teenager, a kiss presented a terrible dilemma.  Do I take off my glasses for the kiss so they didn't mash into our faces?  Would that make me look forward?  Would my date get the wrong message?

I can laugh about it know, but back then it was definitely an issue. 

How about all of you???

Listener E-mail from Jim

I never needed glasses until I was in my mid-forties.  It was TRAUMATIC! Suddenly, I was old!!!!
Others, such as yourself, who began wearing glasses as soon as they stopped wearing diapers, had no sympathy.
I hate wearing glasses, because I can never keep the things clean enough. And I don't like the idea of touching my eyeballs with my fingers every day. So contacts are out.
I also cannot stand the thought of somebody burning my eyes with concentrated light. So laser surgery is also not an option.
Soooooo, I eventually resigned myself to the fact that I must wear glasses and, even if the don't make me LOOK old, they make me FEEL old.
Then, last year, I had get a hearing aid..........

Listener E-mail from Steve

When I was at a meeting, or if I was at a loss for words, I would remove my glasses and clean them. 

This gave me time to figure out what I would say while looking professional…


Now that I have has had the laser surgery to correct my vision, I am now just at a loss for words…

Listener E-mail from Michael

I wonder if you could ask your jerky guests what their opinion is of the recent resurgence of 3D in cinemas, and the glasses that accompany the 3D experience.

Thanks. I'm enjoying the show!

Listener E-mail from Lynn

My daughter Savannah has perfect eyesight and wears these glasses all the time! It is quite fashionable. Her older sister (right) has contacts.

Listener E-mail from Tom

I sure would like to be able to wear contacts.  Eyeglasses are getting in my way all the time.  Unfortunately, I have a VERY strong astigmatism and contacts are not a viable option.

I currently have some 2 year old titanium alloy frames where the coating is chipped.  Do your guests have any suggestions for frames for me that will last a long time without chipping, and will be relatively stylish for an equally long time?  For what it’s worth, I’m a short-fat-old white guy.

Listener E-mail from Sara

Remember to acknowledge that not everyone can afford frames that express their personality or give them just the right look. There are lots of us confined to the bargain frames shelf, which offers little variety- Function, not fashion.


Listener E-mail from Brian

Brian from Manchester here. I'm curious what Jerks With Specs think about wearing non-prescription glasses. That is, glasses strictly for fashion. Acceptable? Some form of cheating? This is my favorite show you've done so far.


I started wearing glasses 16 years ago.  As I age, my vision gets worse.  I love my funky eyebobs, they are readers with really cool contrasting colors.  And, I have found some of the coolest readers at Ocean State Job Lot.  You know, for that extra pair of lenses lying around the house when you need to read, say, a prescription bottle or something of equal importance with little writing.

I have to agree with the prior comment.  I listen daily, and this was one of the most delightful shows yet.

CPBN is so lucky to have you Colin.