Children who wear glasses are being bullied at school, to the extent that some play truant to avoid playground taunts - and it's because of the glasses, not because some kids are just not cool, says Specsavers.
Research commissioned by them to mark the inaugural National Glasses Day on Friday September 19th reveals that a quarter of children were sad when they were told that they had to wear specs.
Being told 'Johnny Depp wears glasses' did not seem to help so Specsavers has commissioned iconic specs wearer Gok Wan, presenter of C4's "How to Look Good Naked", and anti-bullying charity Kidscape to encourage all specs wearers to wear their glasses with pride and draw attention to bullies who ridicule people because of how they look.
The style guru, who was himself a victim of school bullies (yet is still wildly popular, somewhat invalidating his concern that ridicule scars kids), wants to raise awareness of the long-term damage classroom taunts can have, not only on a child's self-esteem but on their education generally, and says that there is no place in today's classrooms for kids who taunt their schoolmates for wearing specs.
"It's difficult to believe that children are still being called names for wearing glasses, especially considering the fact that glasses have become such a fashionable accessory in recent years with many celebrities regularly photographed wearing the latest geek chic styles. I was bullied when I was young and so I really do know how cruel kids can be, sometimes without even realising it. This is why I wanted to work with Specsavers and Kidscape to tackle these issues.
"I want to promote the fact that glasses are cool and everyone should be completely and utterly comfortable wearing them. I want to spread the message to children who have been bullied that they are not abnormal, they are not freaks - they're just kids who happen to wear glasses.
"Nearly 70% of Britons over the age of 15 wear glasses or contact lenses and this figure rises as you get older. This Friday, I am asking everyone to support me in this quest, to ditch their contact lenses for the day, and wear their specs with pride."
A survey of 1,000 children and their parents revealed that:
- Almost 50% of children who wear glasses are called names in the playground
- 20% of children have seen their classmates skip school because they were bullied about their glasses
- Almost 25% of kids surveyed were sad because they had to wear their glasses to school
- 60% of children don't think glasses are cool - Half don't wear their glasses when they should
- Children have had stones thrown at them and their glasses stamped on
- Glasses wearers still get called 'four-eyed freak' and 'speccy four eyes'
The survey also revealed that there are still very few female role models for glasses wearers, with many specs-wearing celebrities still choosing to wear contact lenses rather than glasses on official engagements.
Kidscape founder Michelle Elliot OBE welcomes the campaign. She says: 'Bullies are cowards who look for some reason to pick on kids and they often use glasses as an excuse. With the support of Gok Wan and Specsavers though we really can give some confidence back to these kids and show them that they're not different or geeky, they're actually really cool.'