At 24 years old, I've finally learned to love the gap between my teeth
5 years ago, I would have been super uncomfortable talking about the gap between my teeth.
As a child, I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was really unhappy. It took nothing short of a miracle for me to crack the slightest smile. My school pictures (or any picture for that matter) featured no more than a smirk.
I wasn’t unhappy, nor did I hate taking photos. I just didn’t want that gap — something I I hated so badly — to be printed on wallet-sized photos for my family and friends to stare at forever.
My dad has a gap, and so do a few of my siblings. As a young girl, I had never understood my gap to be anything other than a trait I shared with people who I loved dearly. I didn’t realize that there was something “wrong” with my teeth until my elementary school years. We all know how cruel children can be, and that was what they chose to hold against me. The day that my classmates began using my gap as ammo was the day I started seeing it as a “bad” thing.
The teasing continued throughout my years in school. It was upsetting, but the soldier within me would never let any of those bullies get a reaction out of me. Though I was constantly annoyed by people’s comments about my smile, I never tried to get my teeth “fixed” either.
After years of feeling ashamed of something that I honestly had no desire to change, my only choice was to embrace it.
Instead of changing my gap, I could change my attitude towards it.
The first time I ever felt comfortable with my “imperfect” teeth was in college. Being away from home, meeting new people, and experiencing new things has a way of changing you for the better. College gave me a new perspective on self-love and acceptance that I carry with me to this day. Nothing about me (or you) needs to be “fixed,” and no one is perfect. Both cliche statements — but statements that hold so much truth.
People will always find a reason to criticize you; they’ll feed on the insecurities of others to make themselves feel whole. If someone doesn’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t worthy of knowing you.
That fact is nonnegotiable.
(Plus, there are so many things in life to worry about besides small physical differences — especially when so much beauty exists in those differences.)
Fast forward to today — I’m much more confident with my gap. In fact, I’ve grown to love it. Once I accepted my teeth, I began exuding confidence in my smile. People sensed my self-love, and reciprocated it. It helps that more models, actors, and other public figures are proudly displaying their gaps for the world to see.
Now, I’m so often told how unique and beautiful my smile is.
It reassures me that I made the right decision by sticking to my guns and not getting my teeth “fixed.”
Regardless of how people made me feel, I refused to get caught up in society’s version of beautiful.
I don’t need anyone to validate my smile.
Mika is a NYC-based writer and content creator with a healthy addiction to social media and coffee. She enjoys bottomless brunching, taking long strolls down Sephora aisles, and checking out some of the hottest spots in the Big Apple. Currently, Mika runs a lifestyle & entertainment blog, astoldbymika.com, where she shares embarrassing personal stories, advice on navigating life as a millennial, and witty pop culture commentary. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.