How it began
When I was 9, I asked my mam if I could write a letter to Disney. I wanted to ask if they could make a film with a princess who wears glasses. I love Disney but didn't feel children with glasses were represented fairly. My mam posted a picture of my letter on her Facebook page and we were blown away by the response. I received letters and comments from all over the world, from people who felt the same way I did. I was invited to speak on lots of TV and radio programmes and became an ambassador for CLEARLY.
I met Graphic Designer for LeftLion Magazine Natalie Owen at BBC Radio Nottingham. She very kindly gave me a beautiful illustration of a Disney-like princess wearing glasses. Since then we have collaborated and produced a children's book that we are both really excited about called 'PRINCESS ROSE AND THE GOLDEN GLASSES'.
Click here to find out how you can get a copy.
30% of the profits from the sale of our book will be used to enable orphans and vulnerable children to access eye tests, get glasses or whatever is required to help them see clearly.
My parents run a charity called Operation Orphan that supports orphans around the world and as a result of everything that has happened they are investing in eye tests and glasses for the children they care for. My hope is that these are the first of thousands of children who get the opportunity to see clearly as a result of this simple letter.
I wanted to make a difference and inspire others to listen to their heart and to take a bold step, believing they too can make a difference in their world.
For World Sight Day 2022 I sent a letter to the President of the Unicode Consortium of big tech companies, asking for the option to add glasses to face emoji’s, similar to changing skin colour or hair colour.
The consortium make decisions about emojis, so hopefully we can get them to create an option to put some glasses on. That would be really cool.
#GlassesOn Launch at Paget High School
Video produced by the IAPB
A bit more about #GlassesOn
My passion and motivation to write the first letter, came from a desire to see change, especially for those younger than me who feel they have to take their glasses off to be a princess or a hero. I was aware that I didn’t have a positive role model who looked like me in the media, and I wanted to see this change.
Since writing the letter, I don’t feel like I have done very much apart from responding to the media and saying yes to opportunities that have come my way.
The truth is that so many people agreed with what I wrote and it was their overwhelming response that helped raise awareness and bring the needed change.
I am delighted that Jared Bush and the Encanto team from Disney responded and brought an amazing conclusion to the question that I was asked over and over – have Disney responded?
But there’s more we can do.
I’ve had the opportunity of meeting so many amazing people and professionals within the sight sector and I am learning so much about what life is like for those who DON’T have access to eye care in many countries around the world.
Professor Andrew Bastawrous from Peek Vision explained that in a trial they conducted overseas, HALF of all the children who NEEDED glasses, and were GIVEN glasses, actually did not want to wear them, and chose not to. The reasons for this very worrying discovery were
They feared being different
They feared being called a geek and/or nerd (not in the cool club)
They feared not being attractive because they wore glasses
Eye tests and glasses are not expensive, and they can completely transform a persons life. But if a child does not want to wear them, then the test and glasses are of no benefit.
I received this message from a parent who purchased our children’s book , which further proves the need for more work to be done.
My daughter literally told me today that she can't be a princess because she has glasses. She also said she doesn't think she is pretty because pretty princesses don't wear glasses. I can't wait to get this book and read it to her. Meghan -Texas
Because I have glasses I can ACTUALLY SEE and life is not a BLUR.
Because I have glasses I’ve been able to LEARN and do so many things.
I’ve thought about what my life would be like without my glasses and it’s NOT GOOD.
One simple way to help society break the negative stigma, is to have emoji’s with the option of ‘glasses on’ or ‘glasses off’.
The reason I say this is that when my mam was helping me with my social media, she noticed that there were no positive glasses emoji’s. All she could find was nerd face.,…… . I shared this with a few people at the Vision for the Commonwealth summit and we all agreed that this is something we should address.
So I have written this letter and I hope they will respond like Jared and the Disney Encanto team did…….