Evolution of A Nerd: A Photo Essay

Pen of Jen Photo 1

A Nerd Is Born … But You Can’t Tell Yet

I started out normal enough. I look like any cute happy baby. The bow taped to my head to signify that I am a girl. But really, nothing to indicate the horror to come.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 2

My Glory Days — Oh How I Miss Them!

Me at 2 years old. Or, as I like to think of them, my glory days. I have my long blonde hair. A cute smile. Appropriate clothing. Seriously, wouldn’t any parent want a daughter like this?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 3

I’m Holding My Own Still

I believe this was Kindergarten. Look at the blue eyes. The pulled back sophisticated hair. The Mona Lisa smile. OK…the clothing is a bit shaky, but it was the 1970s and my mom dressed me.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 4

The Signs Are Beginning to Show

First Grade. The hairdo (although perhaps appropriate in the 1970s) is not so cute. And what the heck is up with that outfit? Really — was my mom color blind?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 5

The Beginning of the Long Slide to Nerd

I believe this was the same year as the previous photo. What is significant is that my beautiful blonde hair is cut. And how about that dress?!?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 6

And BOOM! There You Have It: The Exact Moment I Became a Nerd

I mean LOOK AT THOSE GLASSES! And the horrible haircut. And the knitted vest! If this is not the classic nerd photo, I don’t know what is. Don’t I seem to know that something bad has happened to me?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 7

The Transformation Is Complete

Another unfortunate choice of glasses. Another bad hairdo. More poor clothing choices. (Could my collar BE any bigger?)

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 8

The Horror Continues

I remember picking these glasses and thinking, “Maybe no one will notice them as much.” Well, if you wear glasses half the size of your head, people notice. And look at the unfortunate accessory choice: necklace sticking out of a turtleneck. And a denim vest. Good Lord! And how about that hairdo? I believe this was my Farrah look. And could my teeth BE any bigger?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 9

Can You Believe I Had My First Boyfriend This Year?

Me neither. Back to the big giant plastic frames. And look at the bizarre and unfortunate hairdo. And again with a vest!!!!

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 10

Perhaps Contacts Will Help

This is my 8th grade graduation photo. I don’t know if you can see it, but my grandfather typed on the bottom and added “contacts” in parentheses. This cracks me up that he did that. The collar is not my fault; I was in Catholic school at this point. The contacts helped a bit; this also marks the beginning of my “go to” haircut.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 11

The Start of the Perm Experiment (1982-1985)

Well, I got my contacts (which helped) but then I began perming my hair — with increasingly bad results. Can you believe this was from my PROM photo? Can you believe someone asked me to a prom looking like this? I must have a good personality.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 12

My Official Senior High School Portrait

I worked hard to achieve this photo–my best school photo EVER! (And the one I wanted people to remember me by.) Helps to have a professional photographer and soft focus.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 13

The Reality Is That I Looked Like This In High School

See how deceptive photos can be? This is what I actually looked like, but I was trying to erase that image from my high school friends’ minds with my “glamour” shot.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 14

College (Yes … College)

Up to my old tricks with the gigantic plastic glasses. Did you notice them? They are clear, chosen to “blend in” so no one notices I’m wearing glasses. Did it work? Did you notice the glasses?

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 15

A Dramatic Self-Portrait Taken Post-College

Back to the giant, dark-colored glasses – combined with a perm. And how much do my arms look like turkey legs? (And those eyebrows!!!!! They vex me to this day!)

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 16

I Wonder Why I Had Trouble Getting Dates After College?

My only saving grace was that I was super skinny. (A fact I NEVER appreciated until I hit my 30s.)

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 17

Back to Contacts and the Long Hair Experiment (@1993)

I always felt that if I could grow my hair long again, I would regain my former glory. (You know, when I was 2.) This was not true. Do I look like a vampire or what? Or Bette Midler? I swear that Bette and I have the same nose.

Pen of Jen Nerd Photo 18

Me In My 40s

At this point, I’d pretty much just given up and accepted my inner nerd. At least the glasses don’t take up half my face. And I’m married now…so I don’t have to worry anymore about fashion…or make-up…or hair.

This is me … a nerd. But a happy nerd. Power to the nerds!

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  1. Kay R on April 9, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I am reading this again for the second or third or twelfth time. I giggle every time. It makes me want to track my own evolution, but then I get lazy and never do. Anyway…Love your writing and your talent!

    • JPfliegler554 on April 9, 2019 at 5:40 pm

      I’m willing to pay you cold hard cash to document your own evolution! I know I have some nerdy photos of you tucked away somewhere! Freshmen year of college was a goldmine. : )

  2. Marhya on April 13, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Love this! I too would love to document my own transformation. But being the fifth child, definitely not enough photos of me for that!

    Have to laugh at the first grade dress – I think we all had that same dress 🙂

    • JPfliegler554 on April 14, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      And my brother (the third child) complains there aren’t any photos of him! I can’t imagine how few photos there are of a 5th child. Your poor parents had no energy or focus at that point!! : )

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