Happy National Sunglasses Day to everyone, but especially those who dare to wear sunglasses inside or at night. Maybe you’re hungover. Maybe you feel too much, and fear your eyes will expose your vulnerabilities to this harsh, ever-judging world. Maybe you have conjunctivitis. Either way, I salute you.
Society has come down with a decisive hand on the subject of wearing sunglasses outside of the presence of the sun. It’s an obvious extension of our reverent honoring of The Coolness Paradox. As one nocoolnamejim wrote in a Gamestop forum on November 18, 2003:
“Sunglasses are proven to make a person look cooler. On the other hand, wearing sunglasses at night is a blatant tell that you're TRYING to look cool, which is, in itself, uncool thing to do. People who TRY and look cool blatantly are uncool.”
Indeed, there is an itchiness around visible effort. We have allowed for few exceptions to the rule outside of being a blind and extremely talented black man (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder), or an iconic, elderly white person who may or may not have even had eyes to begin with (Anna Wintour, Bono). Even celebrities are met with criticism when opting for tinted eyewear, and yet, is it really a question of aspiring to coolness?
To be fair, that was two years ago—although, I’m fairly certain no one has wanted to look like Jack Nicholson since approximately 1983. Jack Nicholson is 79 years-old and resembles a retired butcher who still eats lots of meats despite his doctor’s urging otherwise. No one is walking into Sunglass Hut, picking up a pair of Ray-Bans and thinking, “Oh, these will make me look like Jack Nicholson,” except maybe Jack Nicholson on a day where he is mourning his youth and considering the impact of his mortality, I don’t know.
That explanation is just so far gone, as are most attempts to limit the wearing of sunglasses. There is a palpable sense of frustration and confusion in dismissing the choice. The BBC themselves suggested wearing sunglasses indoors “if you want people in a room instantly to judge you a colossal, thundering ninny.” And yet, I would argue, the colossal thundering ninnies (?) are not the people wearing sunglasses indoors, but those rallying against it.
It almost seems as though the effort to define the effort placed into being cool by wearing sunglasses inside has made wearing sunglasses inside an act of apathy, the ultimate DGAF move. If it has truly been cemented as a flagrant display of TRYING to be cool (hat tip to nocoolnamejim on the caps), then isn’t wearing sunglasses inside actually an act of subversion, by which one does not care whether they are perceived to be trying, and, thus, are truly not trying at all?
In a way, wearing sunglasses with a disregard for their indication of coolness is the ultimate establishment of a coolness. Other reasons to wear sunglasses inside or at night include photosensitivity, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, CMV retinitis, diabetic macular edema, or, of course, pinkeye from someone farting on your pillow.