I grew up hating my smile. I’ve never really liked my teeth because there are two in the front that are smaller than the others and a little crooked. I was insecure about my teeth, so when I smiled I never showed them. Instead, my smiles were with pursed lips spread as thinly as possible. This makes me cringe when I look at old pictures of me, but at the time my lips were a sort of security blanket. I didn’t want to show my insecurities, so I chose the one thing that could be hidden easily, and, if I could help it, didn't smile with my teeth.
When I was fifteen, I actually looked up difference procedures I could have done to my teeth to change how they were shaped (anything but braces, really), and decided that when I was 18 I’d get them capped. But I’m 18 now, and my teeth are still the same as they were when I was twelve. I thought my smile made me ugly, and I thought that the only way I would ever feel beautiful was if I had perfect teeth.
Over the years, I’ve learned that everyone is at their most beautiful when they are happy. When I’m at my happiest, I smile with my teeth. As I’ve gotten older and I’ve grown to be happier, my smiles have gotten bigger and I haven’t hated them as much. This isn’t to say that I’m never insecure about my teeth or my smile, because that’s definitely not true. There are days when I smile without showing my teeth, but my smile itself is still bigger. My lips are no longer used as a security blanket, instead they are a way to get through a moment of insecurity before I bring my teeth back into the light.
Below I have put some of my favorite pictures from the last year where I'm smiling with my teeth. From left to right, here's what had just happened: I had just finished doing my first poetry open mic, I had just climbed to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral with my aunt, I had just seen one of my best friends for the first time in a long time, and I had just finished the first day of my senior year. All of those moments have memories attached that make me so happy.
Insecurities come and go. My smile hasn't always been something I've liked about my myself, and sometimes it still isn't. But even when I don't like it as much, I know that I'm smiling because I'm happy, and that is never a bad thing.