I went to get a tiny cavity filled this week and noticed that my dentist is certified in Invisalign.  I asked him whether he could fix my crooked front tooth.  As we examined my teeth together, he revealed that it’s not just my tooth that’s crooked, my whole mouth is misaligned.  He couldn’t help me but an orthodontist probably could.  Next step — braces?!

My crooked mouth has bothered me for some time.  My husband used to joke that at least my nose and my mouth both point in the same direction.  Now I have a possible solution.  But could I endure braces?  I would look ridiculous right?  Am I willing to subject myself to a few years of funny looks for a better mouth later on?  And then there’s the cost…ugh.

When I mentioned the possibility of braces to my husband, he balked.  So, being that it was Thanksgiving and I was going to be surrounded by family members whose job is to be truthful, I broached the subject with them.  They inspected my teeth and then launched into a diatribe about how crazy I am and how the beauty and image industry with which I work is driving me into this beauty obsessive state.

Of course no one will ever be as critical about my appearance as I, but if it makes me feel more confident to have straighter teeth, is that so bad?  My family’s response: why should your confidence be so wrapped up in your looks?!  But let’s be real: of course confidence is related to my looks to some extent, just as it’s related to how prepared I feel, or whether I think I have good ideas.  And yet, I wonder, could they be right?  Am I going overboard?  Will I ever be satisfied with my looks?  Am I victim?  Here I am endorsing the quest for beauty but am also exhibiting the very issues that all of the opponents of beauty have been highlighting for decades.

In all honesty, as I write this, I’m trying to reconcile my feelings.  Like all matters in life, beauty is complex.  I still believe that the celebration of beauty and the quest for beauty is ultimately a wonderful thing.  But it comes with questions, issues and conflicts.  We all have to come to terms with beauty in a way that makes sense and reinforces, and not detracts, from our happiness.

I’m still going to visit the orthodontist.  Maybe I’ll realize in the end that my teeth aren’t so bad or that braces could be the best idea yet.  Hey, if my 73 year old dad got braces (no joke!), why can’t I?!

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