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Girls who wear glasses...
November 25, 2009 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of movies in which the heroine takes off her glasses and becomes cool/pretty/better... And ideas for encouraging the practice to stop.

I was surprised when Drew Barrymore stooped to this level with the roller derby movie "Whip It!" I'd forgotten about the moment until I bought the soundtrack today and had an Acuvue ad fall in my lap. "How will Acuvue brand contact lenses transform you?" it asked.

I'm disappointed in Drew and not surprised by Acuvue...

Two part question:
1. It seems like I've seen the glasses to contacts ugly duckling scene over and over, but I'm having trouble coming up with examples now that I'm ticked. Anyone?

2. Do any organizations exist specifically for girls who wear glasses? I'd like to volunteer for or donate to one if so. Ideas?
posted by meindee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (52 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
She's all that
posted by beccaj at 5:56 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


The princess diaries
posted by sarahj at 6:00 PM on November 25, 2009


Not Another Teen Movie parodies this trope.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:00 PM on November 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Strictly Ballroom
posted by Babblesort at 6:01 PM on November 25, 2009


Strictly Ballroom
posted by cider at 6:01 PM on November 25, 2009


Sabrina

Funny face

Now Voyager

How to Marry a Millionaire
posted by beccaj at 6:02 PM on November 25, 2009


Oh this trope is old...
like Marian, madame librarian (Shirley Jones), in the Music Man, or
Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face
but I'd argue it makes girls in glasses mysterious and desirable, not unattractive.
Acuvue, of course, has a vested interest in convincing you otherwise.
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:04 PM on November 25, 2009


Part of the make-over in The Princess Diaries involves the hair guy breaking the girl's glasses so that she has to wear contacts.

In How to Marry a Millionaire there is a lot about Marylin's character not wanting to wear her glasses, but she meets a guy at the end who likes her in them.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:04 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's a list of films that follow the trope, "The glasses come off." The list isn't limited to women, but you can see the extent to which this trope is pervasive.
posted by barnone at 6:09 PM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hee. Wow what are the odds from opposite sides of the country at the same minute? Sorry to derail from answering the question. To make up for it here are a few more answers.

Ugly Betty
Breakfast Club

For more ideas check out these two sections of Television Tropes

TV Tropes: Those Glasses Gotta Go
TV Tropes: Beautiful All Along
posted by Babblesort at 6:09 PM on November 25, 2009


generally these ugly ducking to swan transformations deal with more than just taking off the glasses

There are actually quite a few of them in which the person is already Hollywood-beautiful, but the fiction is that nobody notices it because she wears glasses (and puts her hair in a bun, in some cases).

Some of them are mentioned on the TV Tropes "Beautiful All Along" page.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on November 25, 2009


Oh, snap, everyone else beat me. Stupid slow Internet connection.

In How to Marry a Millionaire there is a lot about Marylin's character not wanting to wear her glasses

The best bit in that running gag is when she takes off her glasses to talk to a man on the phone.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:13 PM on November 25, 2009


for a nongirl example - clark kent/superman
posted by nadawi at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2009


Also, if you like film theory, Mary Ann Doane has an interesting essay called, "Film and the Masquerade." She talks a bit about that classic moment when the geeky girl takes off her glasses and is thus transformed into a sexpot.

Here's a nice blog post talking about that Doane essay, complete with filmic examples.

And an old Salon.com article on attractiveness and women who wear glasses.
posted by barnone at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2009


The lady running the book store in The Big Sleep
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:17 PM on November 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wonder Woman - the TV series and its pilot - not quite the same, but "Diana Prince" takes off her glasses to become Wonder Woman.
posted by amtho at 6:19 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


not quite the same, but "Diana Prince" takes off her glasses to become Wonder Woman

That's a rip-off from Clark Kent/Superman, though, isn't it?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2009


Twin Peaks has a slight twist on this with the character development of Maddy Ferguson (don't want to give to much away). I don't see this one listed on the TV Tropes site.
posted by muddgirl at 6:40 PM on November 25, 2009


Too many great responses to the list question to favorite them all.

So, what do we do about it? Anything other than roll our eyes?
posted by meindee at 6:41 PM on November 25, 2009


So, what do we do about it? Anything other than roll our eyes?

Keep wearing our glasses! And roll our eyes as long and hard as we want, baby, because we know an eyeroll looks ten times more awesome in frames.

(I used to do contacts, but went back to glasses about ten years ago - half out of laziness, and half because I like the way I look in them. They're also an awesome weed-out tool: anyone who makes some dumb-ass comment about how men don't make passes at blah blah blah isn't worth getting to know.)

I'm right there with you on hating that trope, btw.
posted by Salieri at 6:48 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did someone already say My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
posted by bluedaisy at 6:57 PM on November 25, 2009


The scene in Rocky (1976) where Rocky takes off Adrian's glasses (yo, Adrian!) was the first place I remember seeing it, though through the filter of the Mad magazine parody.
posted by scody at 6:58 PM on November 25, 2009


They did this in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and he mentioned how he liked her better with her glasses on. Fairly large plot point. I'd like to see more along the lines of this type of 'reversal'.
posted by tilde at 7:00 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought she wore contact lenses because she couldn't wear glasses while doing roller derby, not so that she could be transformed into a hottie.
posted by telegraph at 7:02 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


to (partially) answer your second question, i used to see those "donate your old glasses!" bins at the public library all the time. you just dropped in your old glasses, and (i guess) they went to people who couldn't afford them otherwise. googling "donate used glasses" gave me lots of hits, including this one from charityguide.org.
posted by janepanic at 7:09 PM on November 25, 2009


I have to go back to the early 90s and mention Penny Pester in Ladybugs! But there's also the issue of the bow barrette to contend with here...
posted by iliketolaughalot at 7:15 PM on November 25, 2009


The Lion's Clubs have a number of programs helping with eyesight issues, including glasses donation. (My grandfather was very active in his local Lion's Club...and wore coke-bottle-thick glasses from the age of 18 months until the day he died.)
posted by epersonae at 7:24 PM on November 25, 2009


Breakfast Club

Neither female character in The Breakfast Club wears glasses, although Ally Sheedy does receive a makeover. However Emilio was already into her, and it's as much about making Molly Ringwald feel good about herself as it is about Sheedy's character.

As mentioned above the "Not Another Teen Movie" parody is pretty brilliant, and my friends and I now use "But she's got paint on her overalls" as a shorthand for this cliche.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:28 PM on November 25, 2009


Stop? Can't be stopped. I and my lovely wife both wear glasses. I even prefer wearing my glasses. But you know what…we both find each other more attractive when not wearing them. (She occasionally wears contacts; I remove mine often — in lieu of bi-focals.)
posted by Dick Paris at 7:36 PM on November 25, 2009


1. The music videos for "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby (the hot lady has glasses and then appears later "sexy" without them) , and "Goody Two Shoes" by Adam and the Ants (the hot lady takes her hair down and as she's in the embrace of Adam, he takes her glasses off).
I guess the '80s were a popular time for this concept.
posted by ishotjr at 7:40 PM on November 25, 2009


The Molly character from the American Girls Collection (I think the glasses come off in the tap-dance novel. I apologize for the literary taste of my seven-year-old self). Also, Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time-- Calvin tells Meg Murray she has "pretty eyes."
posted by ms.codex at 7:40 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought she wore contact lenses because she couldn't wear glasses while doing roller derby, not so that she could be transformed into a hottie.

This. Plus, there's a scene where Babe Ruthless is standing against the rail of the track, out of breath, and one of her lenses has a HUGE crack in it.

One of the women in my league had to get stitches above her eyebrow after her first bout, because she got hit and her glasses cut into her face. Everyone I know who needs glasses wears contacts when she's practicing or playing, myself included.

So don't blame Drew on that one.
posted by Lucinda at 7:56 PM on November 25, 2009


one of her lenses has a HUGE crack in it.

One of the lenses of her eyeglasses, that is.

My kingdom for a two-minute edit window.
posted by Lucinda at 7:58 PM on November 25, 2009


Daria, S02E03 - "Quinn the Brain".
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:05 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Molly character from the American Girls Collection (I think the glasses come off in the tap-dance novel. I apologize for the literary taste of my seven-year-old self).

Ahem. Changes for Molly. The lack of glasses causes Molly to be practically blind while tapdancing, and she eventually gets pneumonia from simultaneously pinning her wet hair up in bobby pins every night before her show to curl it, so this doesn't seem to be entirely the transformative experience that's seen in the other examples--she is, after all, punished for her vanity.

I know way too much about Molly McIntire.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Same thing in reverse: It's A Wonderful Life.

How does George Bailey know down to his bones that Potterville is a horrible terrible place?

Mary is a (eww) librarian with (EWW) her hair in a bun and (EEEEEEEWWWWWW) glasses.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2009


Well you have to admit that glasses styles in the 1980s were pretty fucking horrible.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:08 PM on November 25, 2009


She's Out of Control...a really stupid movie that I remember startlingly well.

Also, the video for ZZ Top's song Legs.

This is how I spent my childhood?
posted by Ouisch at 8:11 PM on November 25, 2009


A related trope (that I couldn't exactly find on the TV Tropes site) is the scene in every damn movie or TV show you'll ever see that features a tomboy, where said tomboy puts on a dress and wows the lead (male, natch) character with her hithertofore camouflaged femme beauty.
posted by serazin at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2009


As a girl with both curly hair AND glasses I can't tell you how annoying it is that the ugly duckling always has curly hair and glasses and is transformed via straightening iron and contacts. Both The Princess Diaries and My Big Fat Greek Wedding do this (along with many others).

I'm pretty sure that after The Princess Diaries there was a grassroots movement done by curly haired girls to get this changed but nothing (that I've noticed) ever really came of it. Good Luck!!! I love both my curls and my glasses and I'm keeping both even though people (women mostly) always encourage me to change both, men seem to like both though. Perhaps thats why women always encourage me to change them :o).
posted by magnetsphere at 8:42 PM on November 25, 2009


What we can do about it is be sexy with glasses. I used to not put as much effort into my look on days I wore glasses ("lazy days") I thought eye makeup was wasted because it was hiding behind the frames. I don't wear contacts at all anymore because they now bother me, but glasses or not, when I'm done up, I'm done up. Smokey eye, red lips, bitchin' frames. In the movies where the girl gets the makeover she's not unattractive because she's wearing glasses, it's because she has untweezed brows, frumpy clothes, frizzy hair and flat shoes. It's all about the whole package. Case in point, as mentioned: How to Marry a Millionaire, Marilyn gets the guy. Is that because (/despite) she's wearing glasses? Or because she's Marilyn-freakin-Monroe? I'd like to note the specific examples I gave are also social stereotypes to prove my point. I don't wear sexy heels, designer clothes or force my hair into something unnatural. I have my own style that I love and that suits me, and I rock it.
posted by Miss Mitz at 9:32 PM on November 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


This goes back to at least 1936, when Dorothy Parker wrote in "Not So Deep as a Well":

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2009


Definitely, Maybe has a subtle reversal of this trope. Early in the movie, the main character mentions he has a thing for brunettes with horn rimmed glasses. Later, he runs into a woman he'd met before and is completely taken with her for the first time. Of course, she's wearing horn rimmed glasses.
posted by lunasol at 9:56 PM on November 25, 2009


"Hello!...Hello " — Humphrey Bogart in the Big Sleep (with Dorothy Malone).

and fuck'em, like poking yourself in the eye every morning is such a great idea.
posted by tallus at 10:21 PM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly I don't have any problem wearing glasses. There are so many cute styles of glasses now (even kids glasses are cute!), and wearing glasses is "in" again. I've been told by guys that heavy glasses are hot on a girl because they have that "hot librarian look" - like I'm going to pull out the pencil in my hair and whip off my glasses at any moment. I've had quite a few guys tell me that they like me better in glasses (including one Mefite).
posted by radioamy at 11:04 PM on November 25, 2009


Datapoint: my longest-term boyfriend liked me better in glasses. The dude I dated before that was in a facebook group about liking "hot nerds," so I suspect he enjoyed my glasses, too. It can be hot to a lot of people, so hopefully the stereotypes are changing. It's just when people wear unflattering glasses like the ones in the '80s, which are, sadly, coming back in style among the hipster set. I know a lot of hipster girls who literally wear the same kind of glasses my grandma wore in 1989. There is even a special glasses store in my city that is run by this old dude that carries ugly-ass overstock grandma frames from the early '90s that 20-something girls are actually buying. It's a step backwards for glasses-wearers.
posted by ishotjr at 11:40 PM on November 25, 2009


I don't know if they've ever done it in an episode of Ugly Betty (I'd guess they must have), but it always bugged me when the actress who plays her would appear without the braces, glasses, and plain hair, and inevitably the magazines would put a caption stating how beautiful she is... implying that girls who actually do look like Betty are, well, not beautiful. Great message. And I'm sure whatever message the show is based on gets lost on the playground.

The same sort of goes for when Charlize Theron (or currently, Mariah Carey) put on the "ugly" makeup.

As for killing the cliche, the thing that comes to mind is how Dan Patrick mocked the classic sports cliche "You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him" by turning it into a catchphrase on Sportscenter in the 90s. Now you never hear that anywhere.

And ESPN's SportsNation show has a segment called "End of the Day," which kicks off with excerpts of athletes using that familiar line. Although that doesn't seem to be as much of a mockery since the hosts use the phrase themselves... knowingly, but not ironically. Conversely, and sadly, that cliche seems to have no end in sight.

Time to go refill my passion bucket...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:33 AM on November 26, 2009


It's been a while since I've watched Hal Hartley's Trust, but I seem to recall that the trope is reversed in that one. Maria starts out as a high school sexpot but doesn't become the love interest until she gets serious and puts on her glasses. Although I wouldn't call it a major plot point.
posted by bricoleur at 3:31 AM on November 26, 2009


The House Bunny (but there's so much more to take offence at in this movie that removing one of the character's glasses to make her "more attractive" to the male population of the college almost pales into insignificance).
posted by ceri richard at 3:33 AM on November 26, 2009


Taylor Swift's You Belong to Me video. Lyrics about a teenage girl pining for her best (boy) friend who doesn't notice her as a woman. Until, of course, she takes off her glasses and lets her hair down at the end of the video. I guess it's worth noting that Ms. Swift also plays the dark haired bad girl in the video.

BTW, Glasses can be hot. There is a whole genre of glasses porn....Or so I've been told. I wouldn't know personally.
posted by Brodiggitty at 8:28 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is in Watchmen, but with Dan Dreiberg (a nebbishy Clark Kent type, who removes his glasses to clean them, sparking increased physical attraction from the lovely, younger Laurie Jupiter). A bit of the footage here.
posted by dhartung at 12:01 PM on November 26, 2009


The girl I've been sort-of dating wears glasses and IMO is just as sexy with as without, but it occurred to me last night that, since removing the glasses is a necessary prelude to making out and/or sex--unless you want to risk them being broken--it might be interpreted as a sexual readiness signal, in the same way other forms of undressing or dishevelment (like letting one's hair down) are. Somewhat counterpoint to the idea of taking off the glasses and dressing up, ie in ballgown, hair-do and makeup, but could be relevant.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:26 PM on November 29, 2009


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