I went to the dentist recently and it's significant since I have the weakest teeth of anyone I know. My dentist and I go wayyy back! The minute I had all my adult teeth, I had a continuous cavity problem. I was a teenager when I had my first root canal. My worst dental moment? When I was 13, I chipped my two front teeth off on my friend's bathroom sink. When my teeth were repaired, it was suggested that my diastema, or natural gap, be sealed up for aesthetic reasons.
Age 11 or 12: Living large with my (multiple!) diastemas.
Since then, my mind's completely changed about my gap. By getting older, attending university, and living independently, I realized that I have different notions of beauty than my community, my parents, and my peers. When I see pictures of gap toothed beauties like Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger, I think they look absolutely gorgeous. The trendiness of this natural feature aside, I started to feel as if my smile didn't feel like "me" somehow. In New Age-y terms, my gap-less grin didn't quite match up with my essential self. I didn't recognize my smile when I looked in the mirror.
When I was at the dentist's office, I asked him to restore my central gap. My front teeth are mostly constructed out of direct bonding material so it's a relatively easy, quick procedure. He was shocked. He explained that people came in all the time to have theirs sealed up and that most people prefer to "blend in". He told me that he'd originally closed six gaps throughout my teeth and that I definitely wouldn't want to undo them all. For a minute, I started to second guess myself; had my instincts misled me? Then I saw my unbonded teeth and I felt tremendously relieved! When I got home, I instantly put on a bright red lipstick to celebrate my newly recovered space.
According to Wikipedia, French people call them "dents du bonheur" or lucky teeth.
I love my new teeth. The gap is narrower that my natural one, but the difference has made me ecstatic. This dental saga has reminded me of the discussions surrounding breast reductions and augmentations. I've heard women say that their original breast size didn't match up with how they saw themselves and they were happy with the surgical opportunities available. I've grown to love the size of my chest, but I realize that many full busted women feel as if their size doesn't reflect who they are. For a long time, it was hard for me to suspend judgement. When I was unhappy with my shape, I thought breast reductions were a relief and I wondered why all busty ladies didn't explore the option. Now, I can't imagine my chest any smaller and often consider how unnecessary that procedure would've been for me.
Since notions of beauty are singularly unique and deeply personal to each individual, it's dangerous to make blanket judgements about a particular decision or appearance. It's additionally challenging not only to realize what you find beautiful, but to discover that your understanding of beauty might differ dramatically from other people's. I'm delighted with my diastema, but I'm sure my dentist was left wondering why I'd enthusiastically choose this look. I also love tattoos. Big, dramatic eyebrows! Prominent noses! In my ideal world, everyone would agree with me. However, I'd pretty sure that would make my perfect world a total snoozefest. After all, the differences in perspective add a beauty all their own.
Alright, I'm curious: what do you think is beautiful? For yourself? For others? Has anyone ever openly disagreed with you?