In most of my life, I don’t think much about the way I look. When I’m with my family and friends I usually don’t worry much about wearing makeup or doing anything extra effort like that – I feel more comfortable this way. Normally no-one has a problem with this, but this past weekend I was with my family for an early Christmas meal and I had to take my retainer with false teeth out to eat. After I had finished eating, one person in my family repeatedly told me to put them back because they didn’t like looking at me without them in. Spoiler, I wasn’t too happy about that.
At this stage in time my false teeth cause some degree of discomfort where they press on my recently grafted bone and it takes a bit of effort to clean my own teeth and retainer properly after each meal, especially when I’m not at my own house. It isn’t unbearable and I don’t mind putting up with that in public. But after the past few months of having that prominent gap in my mouth, I’ve become comfortable without false teeth and confident to smile and talk without feeling self-conscious. So to be told by someone, a member of my family no less, that I need to wear them for the sake of someone else… it really bothered me.
Disclaimers first of all: I will openly say that the rest of my family stuck up for me. They told this person that wearing or not wearing my teeth wasn’t really affecting them and I didn’t need to wear them if I didn’t want to. This also wasn’t the first occasion this family member had been insistent on me wearing my teeth in their presence. When this happens, there is normally some light heartedness to the whole interaction, where refusing to wear my teeth is a kind of me teasing and being stubborn to get a reaction. But this time I was actually hurt a little by their comments, I think because we were with a larger group of people than usual.
While I have mostly become comfortable with my appearance, my teeth are source of insecurity right now even with family and friends. My teeth are missing and I can’t do anything about that! I can’t have permanent false teeth for at least another 9 months because I’m waiting on healing and more surgery as well as finances.
What’s my point? This is a PSA of sorts: don’t tell someone to cover up or change something they can’t immediately change for the sake of anyone other than themselves. Really, that is what hurt me the most; the reason I was told to put my teeth back was so that other people didn’t have to look at the gap. In that moment, I felt a little like a monster; some hideously deformed creature that should be hidden away in the dark so as not to scare people.
It doesn’t matter if it was a choice or not, whether it’s permanent or not, it’s just selfish to ask someone to change for yourself. It would be the same if this person has told me to take out piercings, change my clothes or cover up tattoos or scars because they didn’t want to look at them. Those are part of me, at least in this moment. They aren’t hurting you or anyone else, I am comfortable the way I am. I think it’s a great thing that I am comfortable without false teeth, I’m still myself and it doesn’t really affect my abilities in any significant way.
In summary and in the most loving way possible, mind your own business.