I was 18 the first time. My parents had made an appointment for me at the dentist during a break from college. I sat in the dentist's chair, overlooking Cherry Creek, and the dentist said, "So, your mother said we should take a look at your yellow tooth."
Yellow tooth?! Yellow tooth?! I was aghast and embarrassed, as only an unreasonable 18 year old can be.
At some unknown point of time, my front tooth had turned yellow, but I was personally in denial of this fact, so the dentist's words were an unwelcome wake-up to my new signature look. It was declared a bruised tooth, the only way to fix it being to cover it with an expensive veneer. Every single time I now visit the dentist (especially since I'm a dentist hopper), they say, "You know, we could fix that tooth for you..."(For a thousand bucks.))
And now every time I look in the mirror or look at a picture, all I see is that yellow tooth, like a beacon from a lighthouse calling out to me.
Recently I was out hiking with some friends. I had my best North Face gear on. And a friend said to me, "I think we're close enough for me to say this to you...If I didn't know you better, I'd think you were a pot smoker with that yellow tooth."
Not in my best of moods, instead of laughing it off, I told him that it was the single biggest thing I am self conscious about. Now don't worry, he later apologized, realizing that a. no women wants her physical flaws pointed out and b. no woman wants to be compared to a pothead. And all is forgiven and good in the hood.
But my tooth represents a larger issue and one that will come to the forefront now that I have a daughter: That of beauty and self-acceptance.
Like many women, I've had a tumultuous relationship with my body and beauty, involving many ups and downs and heated conversations with my inner thighs. But now, more than ever, I have a responsibility to model a healthy relationship with beauty to my daughter. I don't want her to see me rebuking my new-found muffin top or loathing my scraggly eyebrows.
Here is what I do want her to see:
I want her to see a woman who knows that a woman's looks are not her greatest or most important asset. I want her to see a woman who takes with good humor her tooth's foibles and her stray chin hairs. Yes, I said it, stray chin hairs. I want her to see a woman who takes good care of herself, but as a means to an end - good health - and not an end in itself.
I have a long way to go. But I have more motivation than ever - my sweet little daughter who is so much more than just a pretty face...though she is pretty darn cute.