I’ve always been self conscious about my teeth. On a 1-10 scale of fucked up-ness, 10 being the worst, mine probably only ranked around a four, but it was enough to make me start hiding my smile. And that really annoyed me, ’cause I’m all about loving yourself for who you are and all that good stuff, but I just couldn’t find it in me to love my crooked teeth. So I battled with it, for a long while; find a way to get comfortable with them or get them corrected?
Eventually, I decided to go for it and saw a dentist about Invisalign. I started treatment and had a set of invisible braces for six months. It was painful and sometimes a month felt like a year. Though they’re supposedly ‘invisible’, that’s not quite true. I had various attachments protruding from my teeth to help them all line up, so I became even more self conscious than I was before. But I persevered and by the end of the six months, I’m now delighted with my teeth. They’re not ‘perfect’. I didn’t want that creepy American perma-grin, fluorescent white, uber-straight veneer clad mouth. I still look like me, but just those teeth that had spent years misbehaving had finally fallen back in line.
Meanwhile, my mother had had crooked teeth her whole life. They were kinda cool, definitely a something that made her, her. About three years ago, she decided to have them corrected and had veneers put on. Suddenly she had this super straight smile. We were all complimenting her on how great it looked, but from day one, she kept saying how it made her feel weird.
Since having it done, she’s lamented her decision to have that dental treatment. Over the last year in particular, she’s been telling me how she was considering having the veneers taken off, how she didn’t feel comfortable and she wanted her old teeth back. I, with my mouthful of Invisalign retainers, longing for the day I had straight teeth, obviously told her she was crazy.
Last week, my mother text me to tell me she’d been to the dentist and had her teeth ‘re-crookeded’. Not quite back to their full former crooked glory, but the evidence of her protruding fangs are back.
And she couldn’t be happier.
I stared at the picture she sent of her new/old smile and I got a little choked up. My mother would never see this as a big deal or give herself any credit for being a badass, but I’m so proud I could burst, that I have a mother who, in a society where we’re told to be perfect all the time, she basically said ‘screw that! I don’t like it!’ and opted to be truly, authentically, beautifully, herself.
I’m happy with the dental treatment I had and am no longer hiding my smile, but I’m even happier that I have a mother who shows me every day in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that it’s OK, nay, glorious, to be exactly who the hell you are. That no matter what images of beauty are hurled at us as the ideal, you can make the bold choice to say ‘actually, I’m alright as I am, thanks.’
We can all choose this little act of rebellion every day – maybe it’s claiming your crooked teeth back, maybe it’s going makeup free – there are few things more powerful that being all the way comfortable with who you are.
Thanks for the reminder, Mama Bangs.