Saturday, April 24, 2004

Easy Virtue... A word about my teeth: Vanity. Weight fluctuates, hands and feet show the care and wear of the years, eyes and hair look bright and dull in equal measure, but my little pearlies have never failed me. This is an easy vanity, as I have merely cleaned and flossed regularly and been blessed with very good enamel. My teeth have never been completely straight, but their slightly askew stance against the world suits my own disposition. Dentists and orthodontists have told me that I need to have braces, and even that I need my jaw broken and re-positioned surgically and I have never taken this advice seriously because my teeth are something I've thought of as wonderful about my face. I have always had about a 1.5mm gap between my eye teeth, and I rather like being a gap-toothed woman. In the middle ages, women with this dental phenomenon were thought of as loose and wild, and though my life rather resembles that of June Cleaver more than I would prefer, somewhere buried in all these folds of tedium and propriety lurks my inner Hellion, pawing the earth like a randy bull and ready to upend the china shop at any moment. Whether I feel like hot shit or not, I don't spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, and one day a few months back I suddenly noticed the gap between my teeth had widened considerably. Now I like a little gap, but I don't aspire to eat corn off the cob through a picket fence, so I asked last time I went to have my teeth cleaned. My dentist recommended a superb orthodontist who seemed more competent and knowledgeable than others I'd seen. I went to him on Wednesday, and he diagnosed my need for braces, etc., but he is the first among them to say the surgery may not be necessary. He did say that my teeth have arrayed themselves according to the bone structure of my face, and that because my bite is so uneven I may have cracked molars soon because they have borne the brunt of biting/chewing/tearing all these years without the help of my canines or incisors, which don't meet. The threat of losing my teeth is something not so easily shrugged off--to suddenly have a lot of tooth-related pain is not something I'm going to be able to abide, I fear. He also said the corners of my mouth turn down because of this. I was shocked when he said that. I said "I didn't know the corners of my mouth turn down--I thought I looked cute." I was kind of reeling from this, actually. It made me wonder if I look like I smell something unpleasant all the time. [If you've read much of my blog, you know I have a nose which is easily outraged, but I don't want to look like I'm outraged all the time!] I feel like a hideous little puppy that doesn't know it's ugly. This has all made me think about how I'm perceived by others rather more than I would prefer. It's too easy to be self-obsessed and constantly rearranging oneself to meet with the approval of people who (should) have no bearing on one's existence. I curdle at the idea of tugging and snipping away nature to reveal the inner plasticene goddess because it is so fucking false. Look at Courtney Love's original face in the film Sid & Nancy, and look today at the latter-day punk priestess-cum-Gloria Swanson blinking like the Bride of Frankenstein in an unflatteringly lit courtroom near you. We're so pretty, oh so pretty vacant. Oh, yes, I'm getting the braces, but if you ever find me running off to shrink myself in cling-film in attempts to meet some standard of beauty that is in opposition to my physiology, please do me a favor and slip me some hemlock.

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