Jessica Abdilla- A Re-Framing of Frames: When Did Glasses Become Cool?

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

As far back as I can remember, I have always worn glasses: learning to walk as a baby I would consistently run into walls and dresser drawers, so an optometrist adorned me with a teacup pair before I was a even able to speak. Growing up with glasses as a part of my identity was extremely irritating since they were always deemed ‘uncool’, however it seems that this stigma has oddly subsided and that glasses are now a commodity of desire. Though wearing spectacles used to connote nerdiness, awkwardness and unwanted deviance, they have come to embody intelligence, trendiness and desirable-deviance; the transformation from ‘geek to chic’ escalated after Hipster subcultures decided to appropriate glasses frames as a cultural marker.

The market for eye glasses used to contain only individuals with vision problem, however this is no longer the case. Similar to the Mods who identified with motor scooters in Hebdige’s reading, Hipsters chose to take glasses on as a cultural marker. Being appropriated by a widespread culture, the original connotations which glasses possessed became altered and subverted: Hipsters desire to be different than mainstream cultures, so they deliberately took on a symbol of deviance and added value to it. The acceptance of glasses frames further became reflected by the cultural industry [Hipster values percolate films, television program and advertisements], and this lead to the development of non-prescription frame. Personally, I was shocked to see how many people were willing to purchase fake glasses from stores like Forever 21 and Icings since a few years back they were highly undesirable.

The appropriation and transformation of glasses exemplifies what Hebdige terms bricolage: the things that people wear have cultural meaning, and this meaning can be further altered through the act of consumption. Speaking specifically about glasses, they are now not explicitly tied to the nerd but as well to independence and originality. This shift has remarkably made fake-frames a trendy fashion item and impacted the fashion industry as a whole.


  1. cs341blog says:

    I thought this was an interesting post and a concept we can all relate to in one way or another. I agree that glasses are becoming increasingly popular with people who don’t require them. People buy them without a prescription to portray a certain image.
    Fashion trends are going in and out of style all the time. Another example that came to mind when reading this post (that relates to Hebdige’s concept of bricolage) was high wasted pants and shorts. Similar to eye glasses, throughout elementary school and most of high school low rise pants were popular and the “cool” thing to wear. In the past couple years, however, high wasted bottoms have been in style and increasingly popular. Before this time, wearing clothes such as these would be deemed as “nerdy” or “uncool” but once celebrities wear them and fashion magazines tell us there in style everyone shifts their style to meet this new style.

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