Talking to Tara Ijai, one quickly learns that her company Love Glasses Revolution is not about the glasses, it’s about the love.
Love Glasses Revolution sells heart shaped sunglasses online and at events Ijai sponsors throughout the Valley to spread the message of tolerance and inclusion.
An American who grew up in a small town and converted to Islam in 2001, Ijai began Love Glasses Revolution as a response to the growing anti-Muslim sentiment she felt after the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino in 2015.
“The negativity was overwhelming. Facebook. The comments. I really couldn’t take it too much more,” Ijai said. “I was getting into a depressed place, and I knew I had to figure something out.”
When her brother sent her a meme of a guinea pig wearing heart shaped glasses that said “I can’t see haters with my love glasses on” it sparked something inside her. Ijai realized that though she could not control the choices other people were making in the world, she could control her reaction to it.
She immediately bought herself heart shaped glasses and felt a change in her attitude.
“So I stood taller. I smiled more. I just put them on, and I rocked them wherever I went,” Ijai said. “People would say, ‘Oh, I like your heart shaped glasses,’ and I would reply, ‘Thank you. They’re my love glasses. I choose to see the world with love.'”
Ijai started to buy glasses in bulk and hand them out with little cards with “I pledge to see the world with love” written on them. The response was so positive, her husband Adnane made her a website, she started a Facebook page, and began to sell her love glasses online.
“As soon as it started to build momentum and start to grow, we saw the power of it,” Ijai said. “It’s just been incredible. The message is everything, and people have really been relating to it.”
Ijai is quick to point out that the Love Glasses Revolution is not about being a Muslim, it’s about love, acceptance, and inclusion for all people.
“I’m focused on humanity. For people who are buying the glasses. Really every thought everything that comes to mind, you have to be aware of the power of love. Once you figure out that, you can love yourself and be loving. Love will radiate in everything you do,” she said.
Though her movement could be seen as a political response to the current social unrest and division, Ijai believes strongly in only promoting events that are uniting and positive.
“I’m not going to go to an “anti” anything protest,” Ijai said. “I’m not gong to go to do anything that will tear down things. Let’s go do something that will build up. I’m for that.”
To this end, Ijai sponsors events at locations across the valley she calls “safe spaces.” These coffee shops, stores, community centers and places of worship become platforms where people can talk freely, celebrate their differences and learn to love and respect one anther.
Proceeds from the sale of her glasses mostly go to the Phoenix Allies for Community Health Clinic, one of three free clinics in Phoenix that are privately funded. Volunteers provide primary care to the working poor in Phoenix.
As Ijai explains, “We want to work with different organizations that share love their way.”
With the recent national press Love Glasses Revolution has received, Ijai is getting requests for glasses, support, and thanks from people all over the country.
Last month, she received a call from an 81-year-old woman in Louisiana who said she was afraid when two Muslim women came into her embroidery shop dressed in scarves and wearing black. The woman explained that once she started talking to them, she realized how kind and friendly they were. She wanted to buy a pair of love glasses to remind herself never to judge other people again.
Ijai believes strongly in her message and the power her love glasses can have to make the world better.
“The questions where you second guess yourself and ask am I crazy? Will this work? Will anyone like this? And then after awhile it didn’t matter, because it worked for me,” she explained. “And it’s so amazing if other people are embracing it, but either way, I could never go back. It’s changed my life.”