Social spectacle: A look at the fake eyewear trend

Caroline Betik

For years, people cursed with poor eyesight have been called names and belittled into stereotypes because of their glasses. Now, that trend is changing, and specs are a wardrobe staple for many people, not just your average mathlete. 

Glasses are normally associated with personality traits such as intelligence. It’s common today for eyewear to be used to reflect a specific vibe to others. Recently, eyewear trends have started taking over the fashion industry, from wire rims to clear color frames, each pair indicating an interpretive quality of the wearer. 

According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wearing glasses has been proven to be associated with many social benefits, leading people to join the trend.

 “Now more than ever, people who have 20/20 vision will wear spectacles just to make a fashion statement,” Whitbourne wrote. “There are six shared social cues wearing glasses may provide to others which includes honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence, higher social class and lower threat levels, depending on the type you choose to wear.”

Communication sciences and disorders junior Barrett Jaso understands why people may choose to wear fake glasses as a way to create a certain impression, but still does not
understand the trend.

“I actually need glasses so I’m kind of forced to wear them out necessity,” Jaso said. “When people wear them when they don’t need them and simply as a fashion accessory, it is sort of annoying.” 

 Although fake glasses are typically popular among people with good eyesight, the fake glasses trend has even extended to people who actually need corrective lenses. 

For design sophomore Victor Guo, fake glasses have become a part of his everyday look, even though he too, suffers from poor eyesight.  

 “This is going to sound so weird. I actually do need glasses, but because my prescription is so strong, they made my eyes look small,” Guo said. “I also have a really flat face, so I feel like without glasses, my facial features disappear, glasses help pull it all together.” 

Guo said because he has worn fake glasses since high school, he thinks they have become a part of him. 

“I think they make me more approachable and recognizable to others,” Guo said. “I own multiple pairs so if I want a classic, smart look or a low-key look I can choose a different pair based on the vibe I’m going for.”

 Whitbourne said because eyewear fashion ranges in variability, it is likely each pair of glasses can insinuate a different personality trait. From seemingly nonexistent rims to rims a half-inch thick, as well as the shape and color of frames, there are infinite possibilities when it comes to choosing a pair of glasses that fit one’s personality.

“People wearing rimless glasses appeared less distinctive, but they also seemed more trustworthy while full-rim glasses seem to make your face more trustworthy, distinctive and draws more attention to your eyes,” Whitbourne said.  “We can assume, then, that people make their eyeglass choices on the basis of what they (along with everyone else) perceive to be the effects of eyeglasses on appearance.”

 However, chemistry senior Lauren Bodkin said when she was choosing her glasses, she looked for something that was universal and could be worn with anything, not necessarily to make herself seem more intelligent or of a certain personality.

 “When I first got my glasses people would tell me I looked so different, and I looked smarter,” Bodkin said. “I think each type of glasses give off a specific vibe. For example, fashionable glasses tend to give off artsy vibes. I think mine reflect me well, though. They are black, practical, cut-and-dry glasses. They’re simple, and I’m pretty simple.”