Troops Get a Trendy Upgrade to Their 'BCG' Eyewear
The days when military-issued eyewear was known as 'BCGs'--birth control glasses--are in the past.
As proof, the military is rolling out a new array of 10 smart-looking pairs that vision-challenged troops can choose from. The frames, which come in a variety of materials and colors including champagne, black and gray, are intended to reflect styles currently available in the commercial market, according to a release from Naval Medical Logistics Command published Nov. 3.
The eyewear is available through the Frame of Choice Spectacle Program and is available to active-duty service-members, reservists on active duty for 31 days or more, and members of the National Guard who have been called to active federal service for at least 31 days according to the release. Military retirees are not eligible, officials said.
It's not the first time that military eyewear has gotten an upgrade since the coke-bottle, thick-framed classes made famous in the 1960s, during the Vietnam war. In 2012, the military updated the standard-issue frames from the clunky brown S9 design, issued since the 1990s and deserving of the 'BCG' moniker, to the sleeker black 5A design.
The new frames are all now available through military providers, officials said in the release. View all ten styles here.Show Full Article
This is why the BCGs aren’t really all that bad
The old saying, “women love a man in uniform” comes with a long list of exceptions. For example, the expression does not apply to service members wearing a pair of S9 GI glasses — more commonly known as “birth control glasses,” or BCGs. Even the updated 5A GI glasses are only just a slight improvement in style over their infamous predecessor.
The distaste held by many troops wearing them isn’t without merit. You’re asking big, badass troops to don a pair of prescription glasses that immediately makes them look like the biggest dorks on the face of the planet. But if you can get over the fact that you’re often going to be mistaken for the commo guy, you’ll see there’s a very valid reason why the military has issued them out for all these years.
And it’s related to one of their other nicknames: up-armored glasses.
This soldier’s look has been appropriated by hipster douchebags who raise hell if their organic kale smoothie wasn’t free-range.
(Tennessee State Library and Archives)
The very first version of GI glasses were issued out back in WWII. The P3 lenses they used were originally meant to be inserts for gas masks — but your average, visually impaired troop needed to see clearly, so the military started issuing out their own version of prescription glasses.
After the war, they switched the frames from a nickel alloy to cellulose acetate. Recipients could choose between gray and black frames. The glasses weren’t too out of the ordinary style-wise and they served a dual purpose of acting as thicker-than-average eye protection while improving a troop’s sight.
For the time, the glasses were aligned with fashion trends and, frankly, style wasn’t much of a concern — they were free, they worked, and they were definitely within military regulations. It was just a bonus that they didn’t look too bad, either.
They can do anything but help you talk to the ladies.
(Photo by Sam Giltner)
Then, the late 70s rolled around and the military went all in on the S9 GI glasses. The frames were bulky and only available in “librarian brown” cellulose acetate. Around this time, soft corrective contact lenses became more prevalent, but military regulation forbid contacts, so if you had a visual impairment, you were forced to look like a dork.
The restriction on contacts isn’t without merit. As anyone who’s ever worn contacts can tell you, they’re a pain in the ass to maintain everyday and almost impossible to keep up with in a military environment. A single speck of dirt can potentially irritate your eye and take you out of the fight. The S9s on the other hand, were intended to withstand the austere environments troops deploy to and the lenses and frame are durable.
All of the jokes we throw at each other for looking dorky as hell will soon be a thing of the past. Now we’ll need some other trait to poke fun at…
(Photo by Melissa K. Buckley, Ft. Leonard Wood)
The military has adapted to societal trends over the years to keep troops seeing properly and protecting their eyes. Wearing BCGs is a regulation that’s really only enforced during recruit training or Officer Candidate School. After the bespectacled troop gets to their first unit, they can swap them out for a pair of civilian, prescription glasses — so long as they don’t have any brand logos on the sides.
The modern version of the GI Glasses — the Model 5A — were released in 2012 to replace the awkward S9s. They offer the same protection, are still free, and they come in a variety of style options from which the troop can choose.
More on We are the Mighty
GI glasses are eyeglasses issued by the American military to its service members. Dysphemisms for them include the most common "birth control glasses" (also called "BCGs") and other variants. At one time, they were officially designated as regulation prescription glasses, or RPGs. This was commonly said to mean "rut prevention glasses" due to their unstylish appearance.
The original version was designed for use with gas masks during World War II. It was wire-rimmed with cable temples and a "P3" lens shape. The design was a modification of the style used by the British military.
After World War II, the material was switched from nickel alloy wire to cellulose acetate. Initially gray cellulose acetate was used, but this was discontinued in 1968, with remaining stocks issued until exhausted. The replacement frames used black cellulose acetate.
In the late 1970s, the lens shape was re-designed to the "S9". Black "S9" frames were released for a brief period, before brown cellulose acetate replaced the black. The brown cellulose acetate frames were discontinued in 2012, and a new smaller unisex lens shape, the "5A", was introduced, with a black frame. The modern "5A" shape was designed by Rochester Optical, who is the exclusive manufacturer of the R-5A frame.
GI glasses are issued at government expense to new recruits at recruit training or Officer Candidate Schools in the United States military. When entering recruit training, service members may wear civilian glasses until government-issued ones are assigned, including but not limited to the BCG. Contact lenses are never permissible for these exercises. After recruit training, service members are permitted to wear Frame of Choice glasses which are conservative in design and color or contact lenses. The military offers annual replacements for those who qualify, and personnel may request the government issued glasses in addition to several varieties of more attractive eyewear, in clear and tinted lenses, as well as prescription gas mask inserts and inserts for government-funded ballistic eyewear.
- Frame, Spectacle, Female Style, Cellulose Acetate, Gray
- Frame, Spectacle, Female Style, Cellulose Acetate, Black (slight cat-eye)
- Frame, Spectacle, Female Style, Cellulose Acetate, Brown (slight bug-eye)
A Brief History Of The Military’s Unsightly ‘Birth Control Glasses’
Anyone who served in the U.S. armed forces in the last half-century or so is likely familiar with the standard-issue GI eyeglasses. With thick brown rims and lenses that looked like magnifying glasses, they were so unattractive that wearing them effectively reduced the chances of getting laid to near zero.
The S9s, more commonly known as “birth control glasses” or BCGs, were issued to U.S. troops for decades until 2012, when officials at the Department of Defense realized their iconically awful prescription eyewear actually functioned as a major cockblock for thousands of libidinous service members who would rather be blind than wear such atrocious spectacles.
Over the last five years, the Pentagon has gradually switched to the smaller, black-rimmed 5A glasses that take us back to an era when wannabe punk rockers everywhere donned the spectacles to look fly. But around the same time military scrapped the ghastly S9s, those civilian punks who made black-rimmed glasses popular in the first place grew up, got jobs, and reinvigorated the market for what appear to be overpriced military-style BCGs.
Those chunky glasses have become so mainstream that you can actually purchase them at *such classy* eyewear purveyors from Lenscrafters to Warby Parker. One site even refers to them specifically as BCGs, with specific reference to the military.
(If you’re looking for authentic BCGs, there are sites across the internet, including Etsy and Ebay, where you can buy vintage military-issue S9s.)
It’s worth noting, of course, that the BCGs weren’t designed solely for a government-sponsored abstinence program.
The original BCGs were introduced during World War II, when, amid frantic recruiting for the the Allied campaigns in Europe and the Pacific, the Army accepted tons of soldiers with bad eyesight. An officer by the name of Lt. Col. F. C. Tyng, who was commanding Fort McClellan in Alabama, wrote in a June 5, 1941 letter that 75 men under his charge had their glasses broken and couldn’t afford to purchase new ones, according to Army Office of Medical History records.
“In less than a month, on recommendation of the Surgeon General, the Medical Department was directed to provide spectacles, repairs, and replacements to all military personnel needing them,” records show.
To address the problem, the Army had decided it would need to develop its own glasses, and the department originally sought options from nine suppliers. After recognizing the difficulty of maintaining nine different vendor contracts, the Army decided on American Optical Co. to deliver 200,000 pairs of glasses to needy soldiers.
After a few months, however, the company failed to produce the quantity and quality needed by soldiers, and the Army selected Bausch & Lomb Co. instead. But the Army’s request was grossly below the actual need. “It had been estimated that 250,000 pairs would be required in 1943. [Overall] 2,250,000 pairs were issued,” Army records show.
The first pair of Army glasses consisted of metal, including nickel and silver. But after World War II, the Army made the switch to silver cellulose acetate frames until 1968, after which the military made the switch to black cellulose acetate frames. In the mid-1970s, the branch finally introduced the now-infamous brown acetate “S9” spectacles that remained in service until 2012.
We can’t fathom how many GIs were denied every living being’s God-given right to violently shed their virginity because of a half-century of BCGs. But somehow, the iconic eyewear has gone from reviled standard-issue gear to hot commodity. So if you’ve still got a pair, throw those babies on; after decades in the BCG doghouse, you might finally be considered one, too.
Frames military bcg
Military Drops 'Birth Control Glasses' For Fresher Pair
Since 1990, glasses-wearing Navy recruits have been required to wear their standard-issue S9 eyeglasses through training. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption
On a military procurement manifesto, they're S9s; but to a new soldier who's just received a new pair, they're BCGs, or Birth Control Glasses. The spectacles' thick frame and large lenses are said to make the wearer so unattractive that chances of connecting with a member of the opposite sex become vanishingly small.
Now, however, the military is offering a new design — a nod to the fact that the standard-issue specs are so ugly, many troops end up stuffing them in the back of their trunk as soon as they leave training.
The military's new 5A standard-issue eyeglasses were put through rigorous testing before they were chosen to replace the older S9 model. Official Navy photo release hide caption
The military's new 5A standard-issue eyeglasses were put through rigorous testing before they were chosen to replace the older S9 model.Official Navy photo release
Retired Navy optometrist Edward Grout tells NPR's Robert Siegel that BCGs deserve their unfortunate name.
"When I entered the Navy initially, we had some gray frames, and then we went to some black frames," Grout says. "When the brown frames came out, we were all a little disappointed."
That was back in 1990. Now, 22 years later, the military is switching to a smaller, sleeker, black-framed style.
"Time will probably tell whether or not the new 5A frame will be considered an improvement," Grout says. "I believe that it will because of the fact that nowadays, it seems to be a little more stylish for a lot of individuals to go back to that Buddy Holly appearance."
Anya even wanted to give Paola a blowjob right at the table. But then a waitress, Anya's acquaintance, approached them with loud greetings addressed to her. Anya introduced her to Paola: Meet Natalie, this is Paola. Very nice. Mutually.
Here, you see, brother, - said Sveta when we entered the bathhouse. Let's wash, steam up and make love, I foresaw this development and took with me the condoms we bought today. Let's break loose, as adults.