A Backhanded Compliment-Redefining Beauty
“You are a beautiful girl, but your smile just doesn’t pop”.
Those were the words said to me at the Orthodontist.
I went to the orthodontist to have some minimal crowding on my lower teeth looked at. I was hoping to smack some braces on for a few months and get them straightened out (literally). After what seemed like mild torcher of pulling my mouth open for them to take photos, I met with the doctor. He was kind, very informative and basically told me I would be in braces a year. At this point in my life, I don’t have the time (thanks baseball) to be in braces for a year, so my crooked teeth will have to stay that way!
When he left however, his staff member took it upon herself to let me know that before entering the room to meet me, she viewed my photos. She then said, “you are a beautiful girl but your smile just doesn’t pop”. She went on to say it was “unfortunate”. At that point, I had already spoken with the doctor. I knew that unless he could work some magic that braces were not in the cards for me and my timeline. So now, with them unable to help me, I am stuck with teeth that, “don’t pop” and there is nothing I can do about it! Great (insert eye roll here)!
I know she was just trying to “sell” me on the idea of perfect teeth. That’s her job, I assume. I can only hope from now on, she finds a new selling tactic. One that doesn’t equate beauty to perfection. I came home that day and stared in the mirror. I felt less than great about myself or my teeth for that matter. Why does my smile not pop? Whats wrong with it? Do my lips seem off? Those were thoughts running through my mind. Yet, at the end of questioning myself, I asked, why does she get to decide what beautiful is? The short answer is this, she doesn’t! Her backhanded complement, shouldn’t impact how I define beauty or how I view myself. But it did. It was a reminder to myself that it is always important to be cognitive of my thoughts, and to filter out negative ones ASAP.
I am confident when I say most women/girls have felt inferior to what the world classifies as “beautiful” at some point in their lives. We hold ourselves to the standard of beauty that we see in Magazines or on TV. Beauty that is “perfect” yet often unrealistic.
I asked some friends to share their thoughts with me. Their answers reminded me that we are never alone. If you are thinking it, or going through something, there is a good chance someone else has as well.
The consensus from my friends was that at one point or another, they felt they did not meet/live up to what the world views as “beautiful”. Struggling with things like weight, acne, height, hair, and so on.
Although outer appearance is what we seem to focus on, one friend wrote that she would like to see beauty “include a greater variety of different types of outer beauty and have a greater focus on inner beauty and elegance.”
Inner beauty and elegance, lets let that resonate. Sure we all have ideals about what we would like to achieve. Wether its weight lost or straighter teeth. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look/feel good about yourself. There is also nothing wrong if you fit what America portrays as beautiful to a T! Yet, insecurity and comparison spares NO one. I have seen first hand, some of the most beautiful girls, be the most insecure.
So if you ever feel less than, look inward.
Ladies lets take the “but” out of beauty. I’m not talking about the one connected to your backside, get them squats girl (if you’re in to that)! I am talking about the “but” of comparison. The “but” that destroys confidence. My wish for women is to feel beautiful without any if, ands, or “buts” about it (cheesy, I know)!
My Granddaddy once told me when I was a young girl, that I didn’t need “perfect” teeth, that my teeth had “character” and that character was beautiful. That has stuck with me through all of these years and means more now than ever. What my granddaddy was really teaching me, was self love. That my worth was more that what the world viewed as “beautiful”. He defined beautiful to me in away that seemed tangible and special. I was special because my teeth had “character”. What if we all described beauty as my Granddaddy did.
Thats what I want for you, thats what I want for my daughter. That’s what I want for myself and for every girl out there! When you feel less than, I hope you can hear my voice (kindly) yelling at you that you are beautiful! I hope you know that your flaws are not flaws but “character” that make you special and unique.