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spec shapers

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Still no news from the bank, I’ll give them a few more days before I call them again. The amounts involved are not enough to cause me serious financial concern, and I think I’m lucky that money doesn’t mean that much to me.

I’ve never seen Strictly Ballroom before, but I recorded it last night, wondering what all the fuss was about. Highly predictable in a “Fame” way, of course, but with a healthy wallop of post-modern Australian mockumentary humour. This was the breakthrough film for director Baz Luhrmann, who went on to direct Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge.

It has one plot feature that annoys me every time I see it: when you see an ugly duckling at the start, you know she will be transformed into a beautiful swan by the end; and you know she will start off wearing glasses, which will be removed later. In this case, the glasses are cheap and ugly, and compounded by blotchy skin and frizzy hair. In general, though, spectacles alone are seen as a sign of repression, of gawkiness, especially among women. Real women don’t wear specs, do they? You don’t see them in the cast of Friends, Melrose Place, or Buffy.

Why is this? Specs are a normal part of life, worn for sensible medical reasons, and I fail to see why they are so stigmatized in the popular media. Example: there’s a commercial on at the moment that features a nightclub scene with horse-racing commentary. Various guys, named like horses, try to “pull” a girl; of course there’s a guy wearing glasses, given the name “Hopeless Case”, who lasts about one-and-a-half seconds. (And you wonder why I don’t go to nightclubs?) In commercials for cleaning products, even, the guy using the “wrong” product is a bespectacled wimp.

In TV and film, specs are seen as an “accessory”, to make a point in a plot, so the prop master makes the actor wear a pair that stands out in an obvious ugly fashion on screen, like a huge pimple. That doesn’t match what I see every day, starting with the Armani set that I’ve had for over four years, since they’re very well made and my eyesight appears to have stabilized. I wear glasses by choice now, they actually serve to “enhance” my “coarse” features.

There aren’t many women in the building I work in, but a high proportion wear glasses all day, every day. I take that as a good sign, indicating that they have their priorities right, and aren’t going to jeopardise their eyesight for the sake of fashion. I tried contact lenses over ten years ago, but they were too high maintenance for me, and actually made me queasy at first (a known problem). Now that disposable lenses are more freely available, and more reliable, I should try them again, especially if I get the extra role in King Arthur.

My eyesight isn’t a problem in my daily life, but it has stopped me from doing something I’ve always wanted to do: fly. The new European rules applicable in Ireland are slightly tighter than the rules I remember reading in the UK years ago, both of which effectively bar me from flying, for reasons of colour vision and the extent of my short-sightedness. Even laser corrective surgery wouldn’t help, since the rules explicitly reference your eyesight before the surgery.

The good news is that the UK is introducing a new Private Pilot’s License standard for recreational flyers, under which your eyesight must match the rules for heavy vehicle drivers, and colour vision is not a factor. I know that flight simulation programs are not as detailed as the real world, but I’ve seen nothing there that makes colour blindness a safety factor. I guess the rules were required in the early days of flight, when pilots had to pick out runways or other landscape features in darkness without navigational aids, but that’s no longer the case in general aviation. I expect to fly only in daylight, and I’m never going to confuse a red light for a green light. If I move back to the UK, then, that’s something I expect to pursue. Ceiling Unlimited, and all that.


Written by brian t

May 31, 2003 at 12:35 pm

Posted in art, fashion, movies

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