I'm hoping if I type this up I'll get it out of my head so I can concentrate on my actual work.
I haven't had time for several years now to read romance novels that aren't written by Moira Rogers
(and haven't even had time for that in months), so I don't really know where the major tropes are. Are romance novels, chick lit, RomComs, etc, still doing that thing where "And then she took off her glasses and he could see her eyes and realised that she was beautiful"? Or have they stopped?
This came to mind because I was thinking about a conversation I had back in the fall where I was explaining the social model of disability by talking about glasses as assistive tech and vision problems being a disability but not really. Everyone in the room was wearing glasses, and there was a certain amount of "Hmmmm...." when I made that connection: Glasses are assistive tech that is generally accepted by society. I've never heard anyone describe getting glasses as a tragedy since I was a young child. Getting glasses is routine, and you'll see glasses everywhere. Glasses are totally assistive tech that are no longer flagged as such, and being near- or far-sighted isn't really considered a disability in the "Western World" anymore. (Eroding corneas, on the other hand...)
At the same time, though, media & pop culture still uses glasses as "code" - either for This Is Serious Work, or This Person Is A Nerd/Geek (and a particular type at that) or a scientist/doctor, or a Srs Scholar. This is true whether the person uses glasses all the time, or if they just use them for certain things. On Leverage
, for example, when Elliot puts on his glasses
he suddenly becomes totally sexy and I'd totally hit that because I'm shallow
it's usually an indication that his persona for the episode is Egghead/Nerd or Expert on something. I think Neal does something similar in White Collar
when he's doing close-up nerdy-type work on his forgeries. [I've just texted my White Collar
expert who I'm certain will be able to tell me if Neal is in any scenes wearing glasses, what episodes it happens in, what the time-stamp is, and what is going on in the scene, while reminding me of everything else he was wearing and where ... Yup, text just came back with a yes: "Episode where he pretends to be a doctor... just before he gets drugged." Thank you, neekabe
] I also clearly remember Elle Woods putting on her Serious Glasses and getting into her Serious Clothes for when she wants to be taken seriously as a lawyer. Glasses = Smart!
What brings this back to Glasses As Assistive Tech is that glasses are very normalized to people watching the shows, and yet glasses aren't all the common as just a Thing The Character Wears in the show. I know why this is - glasses cause light-reflections, glasses make it harder to read someone's expression on the screen, glasses can be dangerous in fight scenes, if they have lenses they can get scratched up and cause more problems, and if you're not someone who wears glasses all the time I'm betting they're distracting.
But novels - whether chick lit or romance novels or whatever - don't have this problem. You can give every character in a romance novel glasses if you want, and it doesn't really matter. And yet, when I was reading romance novels & chick lits all the time, I can only remember one heroine who wore them, and she went through the whole "Oh, but no one will find me pretty! Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses!" (And, despite her glasses being a huge thing
in this novel , the cover art didn't show her with them. Not that this is surprising, but still.)
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, glasses are assistive tech that is very normalized, and yet doesn't appear very often in our media. When it does appear in our media, it's often a code for something. This person is Smart. This person is Studious. This person in Playing A Role.
This person is Elliot and his glasses make him really really hot omg.
And if we can't see this incredibly common type of assistive tech in our media being used as just a Thing That People Wear, it's no wonder we so rarely see people using assistive tech in our media just because Some People Are Blind or Some People Uses Arm Crutches or whatever.
Okay, hopefully now I'll be able to concentrate. Geeze.
(Halifax Weather Update: The foghorns are out in full force, and I can't see the building across the street.)
 BTW: I could tell the author actually wore glasses. Instead of being completely debilitated and helpless without her glasses, she was helpless when she walked inside from the cold, because her glasses fogged up. I'm ridiculously near-sighted without my glasses, and I can still get around and do stuff in the bathroom and the shower and the locker room and even the swimming pool without my glasses. It's walking in from the Canadian winter that I become completely helpless.