Thursday, October 18, 2012

BMO Harris Vice President Justine Fedak loves her glasses

October 2012

Justine Fedak shows off a few of her 30 pairs of glasses.

A Few of her Glasses - A Gallery

So, I wear glasses. All the time.

I started wearing them 20 years ago. I distinctly remember my eye doctor suggesting that I wear them to drive, and to “try and get used to them.” At first, they were uncomfortable and I felt a little queasy. My father jokingly called me “four eyes.” I briefly investigated switching to contacts.

But then, I began to embrace my bespectacled self. The glasses were my shield. My armor. My look. Now, my glasses define me wherever I go.

My name really isn’t something anyone remembers. I find myself having to repeat “Justine” after I’m called Julie, Joanne, Jennifer, Jasmine or Christine. But nobody ever forgets my glasses. I always hear the same thing, “oh, I remember meeting you” and “those” glasses.

Yes, those glasses.

Those glasses are actually 30 different pairs. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I wore the same pair for 10 years. But I really did; I didn’t think about them as a possible accessory, because people didn’t accessorize with glasses in the ’90s. They were actually a functional tool to improve your vision. Imagine that.

Now that they are more popular, people’s comments have evolved: “Do you really need those glasses to see?” Or, “Are those lenses real?” as they move their faces closer to mine. These days, glasses aren’t really for seeing. They’re a hipster accessory; a proclamation of coolness.

But my love of glasses is about more than fashion. They actually help me meet people — you can’t imagine how many comments I get from strangers. It typically starts with a compliment like, “I really love your glasses.” I say thank you and smile, and the follow-up varies from asking about the brand and where I bought them and goes as far as, “Can I try them on?” (For the record, I’m happy to hand them to strangers, give my opinion about how they look and often take their picture with their phone so they can see for themselves.)

Another unexpected benefit of my glasses is they are a fountain of youth. With all the twenty-somethings wearing glasses because they’re trendy, my oversized glasses (which I always thought made me look like Candice Bergen in the late ’70s) are now a youthful statement.

I’m sometimes still asked why I don’t try contacts — typically by people who are a little older. They tell me I’d be more comfortable and look better. I defend my glasses with fervor. “I love my glasses,” I say. “They are me.”

My glasses create connections. They invite friendships. They’re more than an accessory — they change people’s perceptions of themselves. They offer wearers the chance to reinvent themselves. They build confidence. They protect me.

The glasses that made me “four eyes” 20 years ago are now my unmistakable personal brand. When they slide down my nose and I push them up, touching them reminds me they are there and what they mean to me. I feel good.

And now that I’m in my 40s, when I’m reading I’ve noticed I sometimes see better with them off. I recall laughing at my grandfather taking his glasses off to read. And I think of how many special moments my glasses provide me and how — in a world where we are all striving to be perfect — I’m grateful my eyes aren’t perfect. Except when I wear my glasses.

Justine Fedak donated her fee for writing this column to the Noah’s Arc Foundation

Skyvision Centers has an extensive collection of eyeglasses for all ages and personalities!

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