Serious question: If you could change any one thing about yourself physically, what would it be? I know this is a controversial question. There are varied and strong opinions, both for and against surgery or measures to alter the body that we have been given. I certainly don’t want this post to become a heated argument about the plastic surgery industry… that’s not where I’m headed.
I only mean this post to be a confession from me, Peach, who has had a serious issue with something about her physical person since she was about twelve.
My crooked front tooth.
It’s there. I know it is. I see it in photos. Correction: it’s the FIRST thing I see in photos of myself, no matter what outfit I’ve donned or how good of a hair day I’m having. I only see that damn tooth. It jumps out at me the second I lay eyes on the picture, taunting me with it’s jaunty, off-kilter state. And I curse my younger self for refusing to get braces when I should have.
But I had good reason. You see, if I’d have gotten braces in middle school it would have changed the direction of my life, all the way to present day. I am not being dramatic. It’s true. But that’s a story for another blog post.
On the occasions when I’ve gathered the courage to express my insecurity about my wonky tooth to trusted friends, the answer from them is inevitably the same: shock, confusion and the statements “I never even noticed!” or “But it’s what makes you YOU!” or endearingly from the fiance, “I LOVE THAT TOOTH. DO NOT CHANGE IT.”. My instinctual reaction to those statements is always the same. They’re just being kind. Those are friendly white lies to make me feel better. Of course they see it and they think it’s hideous.
The worst is when someone actually points it out. Or to my horror, they ask me if Snaggletooth has gotten even more crooked. With every occurrence of spotlighting it, my level of insecurity has grown exponentially.
Looking at pictures of myself taken in the past year or so, I can see that there is an obvious trend. I’ve stopped smiling in pictures. All I can manage is a close-lipped smirk that shows my laugh lines and my dimple… but not my tooth. For a perfect example, just look at my blog header. I don’t want to see that tooth in pictures, nor do I want anyone else to. I hide it.
But after making excuse after excuse to postpone this step for over twenty years, I’ve finally made up my mind to change the behavior by fixing the issue. And what was it that gave me the kick in the ass I needed?
I’m getting married.
Our wedding day next year is going to be the happiest day of my life and you bet your ass that I’m going to be full-teeth grinning nonstop. That doesn’t worry me so much, but what keeps me awake at night is the photography. When I receive my wedding pictures, I don’t want to methodically pick apart every picture taken of me that day that shows my teeth… Snaggletooth captured for all to see, for years to come. I don’t want to cringe at every open-mouthed laughing shot because I’m blinded to everything captured except that. And I don’t want to be immune to the beauty of every other detail and memory, simply because I’m insecure about a seemingly small physical flaw.
I wish I were brave enough to not care. I wish I were strong enough to say “screw what everyone else thinks”. I’ve tried. Twenty years of trying, and it’s not working.
So I am doing what I feel is best for me. I’ve decided to take measures to fix my Snaggletooth. It started with the wisdom teeth removal. That was a necessary pre-requisite, in case you were wondering why ANY sane mid-thirties woman would voluntarily undergo such torture. That sucked. A LOT. Once healed, I chose Invisalign. I’m about a month in, and I can’t pretend that the process isn’t painful or tedious or annoying. It is, all of that. But I’m taking this step for me and it will be worth it.
One would think that I’d be all kinds of empowered after taking this big step. But because of the level of shame I feel, I’ve told very few people that I’m doing Invisalign. I’m frightened of their reactions. Whether it’s to tell me I’m stupid for caring so much, or to tell me I shouldn’t have spent the money, or worse – to poke fun at the clear trays that surround my teeth and make it difficult to speak normally. I may put on a brave face, but any of those criticisms will hurt me terribly. Yes, I know I’m being a giant chicken about it, but I’d rather not divulge unless asked and I’m extremely cognizant of making sure to enunciate my words carefully. So far, so good. Except after a few glasses of wine. Yikes.
Surprisingly, the trickiest parts about Invisalign are 1. Social settings that involve food or drink. You cannot eat or drink anything other than water when they’re in, so removal is necessary for parties, movies, dinners, wine nights, etc. The extended amounts of time make it impossible to have the trays in for 22-23hrs per day and 2. COFFEE. I’m a sipper. I like to drink my multiple cups of joe at a leisurely pace throughout the morning. Instead, I now have to pound my coffee like a champion frat boy and hoover every meal to get the trays back in. Ugh. This makes for a not too pleasant Peach. This shit better be worth it.
I’ve done a lot of Mighty things this year, but this bucket list item is up there with making me feel the most vulnerable. But there’s no turning back now. I have a year of slight inconvenience ahead in trade for a lifetime of feeling better in my own skin. This is my choice, and I choose to be proud of my smile on my wedding day and every day afterward. I’m grateful that my fiance, despite loving me especially for that Snaggletooth, fully supports me in my decision. He understands.
To the friends who have been gentle with me during this month, thank you. To those of you reading, thank you for letting me share my secret.