In 2013, a 14-year-old boy in China named Xu Yingjie bought his first pair of glasses.
He says he’s never regretted his decision: “It’s better than wearing glasses all the time.”
But Xu is now a father, and his wife, who’s also a teacher, says he can’t help but be “embarrassed” when they tell him what he needs to wear on the job.
“It just makes me feel really uncomfortable,” Xu says.
“But I just think I’m going to have to do it anyway.”
For the most part, the glasses Xu and his mother bought for him were a success.
But Xu’s father, Zhang Zhengqing, says the family was unprepared for the impact the new glasses would have on their lives.
“When the kids started wearing glasses, the whole family was really scared, especially my son,” Zhang says.
He has to wear them every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.
“If I’m walking, he will see me, and if he sees me with my eyes open, he’ll know that I’m watching him.”
To be sure, Xu’s parents say their son isn’t averse to wearing glasses.
“He’s very open-minded,” says Zhang.
“And he’s not afraid of anything.”
For many of the children of China’s first industrial revolution, their childhood was spent in a state of constant, constant surveillance.
The government wanted to prevent their families from having too many children.
“We used to work at the factories,” says Xu.
In addition to the government’s constant surveillance, the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, also tried to make sure its citizens didn’t have too many siblings. “
Even though it’s scary, at least you know what you have to look at.”
In addition to the government’s constant surveillance, the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, also tried to make sure its citizens didn’t have too many siblings.
“Every single day, the government had to put on a lot of propaganda, so that we didn’t start thinking about other things,” says Zhiqiang Chen, a 26-year old worker in the Beijing factory where he works.
Chen says he doesn’t like wearing glasses because he thinks the government is “playing with our brains.”
Zhang and Zhang’s son still works in a factory, but the young man is happy to have them.
“I want to make a good contribution, so I can become a teacher,” he says.
The young man’s mother, Zhang Shuai, is also in favor of glasses, and says she’s glad that her son has started wearing them.
Zhang Shuagui’s son wears his glasses at work, but she’s more excited to have his own glasses.
They’re a good gift for the school and schoolmates.
Zhang says her son wears them “as a sign of his responsibility.”
“It shows that I have a job,” Zhang Shuaghui says.
But she adds that she wants to keep her son’s choice to wear a pair of new glasses a secret.
“The more you wear them, the more the government will see them, and you will get in trouble,” she says.