A Fond Farewell to Standard-issue Spectacles

By Marine Corps Sgt. Mark Fayloga

(This blog originally appeared on Marines Blog at


Photos by Marine Corps Sgt. Mark Fayloga

The standard-issue spectacles, S9s, most widely known as “Birth Control Glasses,” or BCGs, are soon to become a thing of the past.

In the coming months, recruits from all branches of service will be issued 5As, a more modern, hipster-chic pair of glasses. While the 5As are inarguably more aesthetically pleasing, they offer very little help as a contraceptive. Also PFLGs (Perfectly Fine-Looking Glasses), or TIGTABCYTPNGs (These? I Got Them At Boot Camp. Yeah, They’re Pretty Nice Glasses) doesn’t have the same ring as BCGs.

If this is the death of Birth Control Glasses, let this stand as their eulogy.

Birth Control Glasses, labeled lovingly so because they’re so ugly you don’t stand a chance of finding a partner while wearing them, have always been the great equalizer. Even the most Handsome Harry and Sexy Sally are humbled by their wear. At boot camp, there are many things that break down individual identity and reinforce a unit mentality, but the BCGs do this exceptionally well. Recruits forced to wear them share the bond of constantly thinking, “I look like an idiot in these things.” Meanwhile, all the other recruits are thinking, “Look at those idiots,” and, “I hope my drill instructor didn’t just see me scratch that itch.”

The BCGs are like reverse beer-goggles. They can turn even a 10 into a two. Certainly you’ve heard of Brad Pitt, movie star and former sexiest man alive. And you more than likely know of Drew Carey, television star and former Marine. Here’s a little known secret, that’s the same guy. His real name is Hans Vandersmit. He’s a woodworker from Oregon who wanted to make it big in Hollywood and figured he’d have better chances if he created two distinct personas — surprisingly he found success with both alter egos. One you know as the global star, philanthropist and heartthrob. The other wears mock BCGs and hosts The Price Is Right.

As ugly as the BCGs may be, they always got the job done. They are sturdy, they are reliable, and they are ugly see-through. They have provided clarity for Marines on Iwo Jima just as they have for Marines in Fallujah. They will be missed.

Just as the sun shines through after a heavy rain, all is not dark after the loss of the BCGs. The nation as a whole, and the military especially is looking to cut spending, commit to cleaner energy and find ways to save. With the use of the newer glasses the savings will be tremendous. With the same amount of plastic and glass it takes to make one pair of BCGs, you can make six pairs of the new glasses. Unfortunately all of that money will not be saved, but redirected to TRICARE to compensate for the spike in pregnancies by service members who are no longer wearing BCGs.

As with any good eulogy, let us remember the legacy of the BCGs with a poem. Unfortunately my Robert Frost book of poems is loaned out, so here’s a haiku:

Too thick  frames appear
Taking their place on my face
Women are repulsed

The Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery news article announcing a new eyeglass frame can be found at http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64872