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Goodbye ‘Birth Control Glasses’

(U.S. Marine Corps photos by Sgt. Mark Fayloga)

In the wake of the DoD's announcement of new standard-issue military glasses, a new study found that one out of five Marines is distraught over the loss of Birth Control Glasses. Correction: One Marine in the entire Marine Corps is upset about it. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by 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

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  • Anonymom

    A quick word from a civilian optician who have never had to wear BCG but my brother is very familiar with them. As soon as they are a thing of the past they will become VERY chic and sought after. Think “geek chic”. Mark my words.

  • Nino

    Very funny – well done!

  • Notachance

    Nice Haiku! Nice eulogy.  Thanks for the laugh!
    Retired SSgt

  • Xukir

    I know what that is like as well. Thought they were just too tight on my face and was shaving getting ready for lights out one day and saw that they were cutting into my nose… shit hurts like a mother…

  • Dawn

    Love this, my second Marine son had to wear BCG’s, he graduated just a few short months before the change over. Going to post his picture on my blog in a week or so and link to this article. LOVE your explanation and tongue in cheek humor.

  • pk

    Actually, I like the ring of “TIGTABCYTPNGs” the pronunciation is “tig tab sit pings”

  • Kcbieszke

    Probably why they have to get rid if them – they are (were) becoming “faddish.”

  • OneMoreYear

    First no more Cadillac boots (boots you actually have to spit shine), then no more silkies and now no more BCG’s!!! What is the Marine Corps coming too!!!

  • Dustin Murphy

    I think this is a good idea. Those glasses are killer.

  • Eric Glocker

    If you can’t pick up tail in your BCGs then you don’t have any game. Don’t blame the equipment for your failures devils

  • Anonymous

    The acronym used to be BCDs or they were called Clark Kents.

  • Karen

    Hilarious…more so because of the element of truth;)

  • Kill.

    this is bull sh*@, this is a way of hazing these new recruits, I had by portholes big as sh*% cutting my nose from the DI so should every inspiring Devil pup.

  • AORTIZ57


  • Goldcorps5

    Great job Fayloga!  This was a very entertaining way to cover this “sad” event.  It had my whole shop in tears…

  • Dixie_doll02

    TriCare is the military health care for those in the military and their families. So as you put it, it is for those who served and are serving still. It is a joke about how not having the big, ugly glasses will allow more of our men and women in the military to start families.

  • Alphabravo

    At OCS we all had to wear brain straps with out BCGs so in the early Quantico mornings they would fog like a mother. A lot of guys wrapped a bunch of athletic tape around the center of their BCGs so they wouldn’t stick so close to their face and would fog less often. The trick work, but man it made the BCGs worse!

  • Christofferson109

    Because woman aren’t serving?

  • Bob

    Oh how we will miss the BCGs.!!

  • Bob

    You are right. Many of us Marines LOVE our BCGs.  I think we actually start trends in some places where we see more people wearing them.

  • Garageman01

    Do Australia.

  • Doc Rick

    I only wore mine in the field and wore my PX wire framed glasses everywhere else. Are the ones pictured the new style? Those are even uglier!

  • Texasmo

    Was issued the black, Clark Kent style BCG’s in bootcamp, along with the black, elastic “brain-strap”. I remember the drill instructors would sometimes pull the strap back and let it go, popping you on the back of the “gourd” (head), ha ha. They were kinda nice to have, thouh when shooting the M-16 as they would keep gas from going back in your eye.

  • Boatraider123

    well someone has to lol!

  • Boatraider123

    i laughed out loud when i read your hubby puts tape around the middle lmao!

  • Bryan

    A refreshing change to see on this blog. I might start checking it more often. Would be nice to see the other services doing the same.

  • anon.

    We can’t get rid of BCGs that part of being a marine in boot camp what the hell are they doing to my corps

  • Marine Corps Production

    If you click on the “thing of the past” link it will take you to an article with an image of the new glasses.

  • Marine Corps Production

    If you click on the “thing of the past” link in the story it will take you to an article with an image of the new glasses.


    My husband has been out of the Marines for over 4years and STILL WEARS THEM. He actually put a little tape around the center to geekafy them more so. I like the BCGs… I know my husband will be disappointed about the change…

  • Karl Hiser

    I recieved my BCG’s in bootcamp in 1984 and they were black frames. I hated them but I could see. One thing I did notice was that my eye relief on the M-16A1; (yes one) was very close and those glasses kept the charging handle from dinking me along my right eye or from the primer gases making me tear up. I used that as part of my shooting routine and then upgraded to the brown frame sunglass types and still used the brain strap. I was always an expert shooter! ALSO, I used to M-nu the inside of my non shooting eye lens on the sunglass BCG’s so I couldn’t see out that lens during shooting. They didn’t allow the use of shooting eye patches at Cherry Point when I was there. I told one shooting coach one time when I was a Sgt; “The private doesn’t now sir,,,,The tooth fairy took a crap o my lens!” He liked it very much when I gave him my chevron on qual day though!

  • Alicia

    What do the new 5As look like.?

  • Alicia

    This makes me sad.! D: I was looking forward to getting BCGs when I join the Marines.!

  • T_wright7369

    I had the bcg style before these last hideous things………I had the black horn rimmed glasses

  • Marinesgirl1775

    But but but I was anticipating getting my own bcgs …. Away man Danny people and your crazy theories of what’s good looking and fashionable… Away man… There goes the all fun out the optical part of military… *pouts* *walks away gloomily with a rain cloud over head*

  • Tom Payne

    I definitely remember this!!!

  • Zeroalternate

    “Back in the old Corps,…” Just another story I can tell my son/daughter about how tough it was in years past. Eventually.

  • Bcgboy

    This was a great read but it was lacking in one critical error that I am sure every other person reading thought of. What do the new ones LOOK like…a visual…not just a description!