This past weekend, I had a crack-of-dawn dentist appointment. My yearly check-up, as it were. My capable and friendly dentist boldy declared – for the first time I had ever heard in my life – that my teeth were in tip-top condition. Evidently, my New Year’s resolution to keep on top of my flossing was working. That said, he mentioned that if I wanted some vanity work done, I could schedule an appointment – a teeth bleaching/whitening session to clean up the sparse coffee and tea stains on my teeth (that I personally had not noticed) and a filling session to close the gap between my teeth, the one I’ve had since I was little.
Now, I didn’t take his recommendations very seriously first, but now that I’m at home, comfortable and contemplating his suggestions, I’m wondering the broader implications of his obviously very innocent suggestion.
I’ve had a gap between my teeth for as long as I know. It’s very unnoticeable, but noticeable enough that it could be a blemish in what I think is my generally presentable appearance. The roots of this gap go to when I was a youngin’ – I was a chronic thumbsucker until I was about 6 or 7. Embarassing, I know, but I think it really was a nervous thing, because I graduated from sucking my thumb to chewing on my nails, and I only chew my nails when I’m stressed out or nervous (although I’m working on that, and so far so good).
It’s odd because I feel that fixing the gap between my teeth isn’t a huge deal and not something nearly as superficial as you know, getting ginormous breast implants or skimming that last 1/2 inch of fat from your thighs with liposuction. But isn’t it? A gap between your teeth is such a minute thing, so unnoticeable probably to the majority of the population, so why even consider changing it? Sometimes it freaks me out how utterly enamoured our society is with perfection, but at the same time sickened of it. We criticize fashion magazines and advertisements for air brushing models, but at the same time we often squirm at seeing things that are less than desirable on the glossy pages of magazines. And we say that we want to see real-sized models, but then we do and comment that the clothes hang poorly on her. We rever certain individuals for having a certain look or quirk; something that sets them apart from the rest – a mole was Cindy Crawford’s – yet we also chastise others for looking too alien and unique.
Obviously I’m making some broad, sweeping generalizations with this. But as I read more and more and learn more and more, I’ve increasingly come to the realization that everything in society is contradictory. The demarcations and divisions are very vague and everything is a shade of grey. Sometimes I think it’s amazing and unbelievably interesting that things aren’t clearly demarcated, but I have to admit that it’s a bit of a headache to really think about.