April 8, 2015

Big glasses babe du jour

Jan Smithers as Bailey Quarters, from WKRP in Cincinnati (circa 1980).

In more outgoing times, even the shy types wanted to connect with others, leading them to wear glasses with large inviting frames. Something like the awkward but well-meaning girl in the freshman dorm leaving her door open in the hopes that someone will drop by and interact with her.

Contrast with the narrow, beady-eyed glasses that are preferred by the mousier introverts of today (and during the last cocooning era as well, epitomized by the cat eye glasses of the '50s).

Some pictures from back when "geek chic" aimed to look welcoming rather than repellent:


  1. America's sweetheart...Loni Anderson was a tacky distraction

    Jan was also semi-notorious for this magazine cover some years earlier; http://i.imgur.com/NvTEQec.jpg

  2. When she was younger she looked even more like Amy Adams, in appearance but in personality too.

    Kind of insecure and introspective, but basically people-oriented and wanting to push herself to stay connected with them rather than retreat into a burrow like Ally McBeal and other recent failed incarnations of that character type.

    Jan and Amy also have a wild child streak (just a streak, though), whereas the "modern-day sweetheart" type of the past 20-odd years is more of a sourpuss and a party-pooper (Jennifer Aniston, Ally McBeal, Sandra Bullock). They have a pouting toddler persona, compared to the mature and womanly Jan and Amy.

  3. Nowadays, I don't recall very many depictions at all in the movies or TV of people wearing glasses. This is the age of LASIK.

  4. "Nowadays, I don't recall very many depictions at all in the movies or TV of people wearing glasses. This is the age of LASIK"

    I think you can blame high inequality/low outgoingness for this to some extent. Look at all the superhero movies that have been popular since '89's Batman. Audiences since the early 80's have demanded more and more elite characters. Not just elite in abilities/intelligence, but also in physique and sex appeal. It's seems to have risen in tandem with inequality. Lead characters were sexier and wittier in the 80's than they were in the 70's, 90's characters were sexier and wittier than 80's characters and so on. Entertainment is about wish fulfillment if nothing else. As empathy and imagination have declined and striving has grown, the audience focuses more and more on superficially attractive and exciting traits. Well into the 80's it was possible for people, even "dumb" teens, to take an interest in a homely character of limited status and ordinary skill/intelligence.

    It's also an outgoingness thing; characters in the 40's/50's wore elaborately designed clothes and the women were meticulously made up and photographed. Meanwhile, in the more adventurous 60's and 70's, the audience became more interested in stories with emotional resonance rather than the trappings of glamor. So actors looked a lot more ordinary.

  5. Back to WKRP. I saw some re-runs of that over the last few years. It's another reason to cherish the late 70's-early 80's.

    People back then didn't just have better taste in glasses; their hair and skin looked better too. Looking at Smithers, it really makes it all the more striking how many post 1992 would-be sex symbols are basically desolate compared to so many women (even the more non-descript ones) of the 70's/80's.

    Tanning beds, awful diets, neurotic stress (over relationships and about one's place and security in life), hair straightening, hygiene OCD, and so on make you look like crap. And the screechy voices and terse affect will blow up what's left of their attractiveness.

  6. I thought that narrow glasses were more of a marker for gay men signalling what team they are on. Narrow glasses may be so popular now that it isn't really a marker for anything. Anyway, narrow glasses are much less a problem for me than sunglasses. Zero possibility for eye contact and even confusion if the person wearing the sunglasses even notices you. I remember Amy Adams saying that she used to be a Hooter's waitress and enjoyed it. That kind of experience might help her successfully present a fun image.

  7. She also has a lovely haircut that flatters her face like a heart-shaped picture frame.

  8. From a 1978 episode of The Sandbaggers, "Always Glad to Help": https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_b7mVvHY9d8/VjBJJbLQa4I/AAAAAAAACss/DScEaw1ercU/s800-Ic42/Fullscreen%252520capture%25252010282015%252520120026%252520AM.jpg


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