Hello guys !
Let’s talk about characters’ eyes in literature, specifically those characters who have bad eyesight. I’ve been wearing glasses for years – never contact lenses though. I don’t even remember when I got my first pair – sometime in primary school. And I’m not the only one in my environment who wears glasses or contact lenses.
I want to talk about some bookish situations that irritate me as someone with bad eyesight, and as a person who wears glasses. (Not all people with bad eyesight will wear glasses, there are also other accessibility devices that we could use).
So, you’ve got a character who’s in love with someone. And whenever they don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, they aren’t able to see their surroundings clearly. However, they are very deeply in love with one person, and whenever this person is around them, they are still able to see them clearly regardless of the fact that they’re not wearing glasses or contact lenses. This is supposed to show the reader how deep and strong their love for their love interest is. Sorry to break your bubble, but you know what? It’s so irritating. Bad eyesight does not disappear whenever you see your love interest.
This is a glasses-specific topic.
Ball masks are more time-consuming to prepare for if you wear glasses. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you can’t wear masks as a glasses wearer. You can, but preparations takes more time and you won’t be as disguised as the other participants because people may still be able to see your glasses, depending on the mask design that you choose. What I want to know is why we never read about how someone with glasses prepares for a mask ball.
A character with bad eyesight travels into the past and magically does not require any sort of corrective lenses once they arrive there. This is lazy story-writing and it most certainly isn’t representation.
Why are there almost no characters with bad eyesight in historical fiction. It’s not realistic. We’ve always existed. And people have been wearing corrective lenses for centuries. Ok, if the novel takes place thousands of years ago, I can understand that the characters won’t be wearing glasses or contact lenses, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have bad eyesight. And no, it’s not enough that the old characters have bad eyesight or that you have one character with bad eyesight who is however super wise and does not need to rely on their vision due to their superiority.
Glasses and contact lenses are expensive! Getting corrective surgery is expensive. Why don’t we ever hear about characters saving up for these possibilities? You’ve got to clean your glasses and contact lenses every once in awhile as well – yes, even when you’re living in a dystopian world, because otherwise you won’t be able to see because they’re dirty. In contact lenses, this could lead to infection. If your glasses get broken or bent, you’ve got to repair them – and let me tell you, I have to go every few weeks to get them fixed because, for example, someone’s elbow bent them.
Now this hasn’t got to do with the inside of the book but with the outside of the book. Why is it that characters that wear glasses are pictured without glasses on the cover. I want to see representation and that includes representation on the cover. And yes, it will make me more likely to pick up a book because it’s pretty cool to be represented!
I’ve listed some bookish situations where I wish authors would represented people with bad eyesight better. However, where are these characters. Why is it that there are usually very few characters with bad eyesight, and if they exist they’re usually the smart student, the geek or the teacher/professor. It’s not realistic. So many people have bad eyesight. Why is that not reflected in the books we read?
So, those are some of the issues I have with books in respect to characters with bad eyesight. The list isn’t conclusive and there are situations that I haven’t touched upon here. What situations about characters with bad eyesight bother you in books? What are some books where you think that the representation of the characters with bad eyesight was good?
Book Blogger @ Huntress of Diverse Books
Sinead is a book blogger. She’ll be studying Publishing from September onwards. She focuses on discussing problematic issues in books, character interviews, and promoting diverse books. When she’s not immersed in the bookish world, she enjoys dancing and eating.
Notable Posts :
- Should you edit ratings and reviews of books after they’ve been published?
- Reading Diverse as a Form of Activism
Diverse Book Bloggers Discuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant and have a lot to say but have smaller platforms and don’t really get as much reach as they deserve. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where twice a month diverse book bloggers will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog.