I grew up always the tallest girl in my class. Added to that my linebacker shoulders and Andre the Giant sized feet, childhood was …. interesting. I say that because, despite having two older brothers who loved picking on me alongside their older, cooler, pothead friends who also contributed, I had fairly healthy self-esteem.
School was inconsequential – I can now say – simply because I learned early on that if I made the first joke about my weight or tomboy tendencies, it took the heat off the burn. People always teased me for being fat, but in my mind that was a no-brainer. That’s like calling someone blonde and expecting it to hurt. “Duh, dude. Duh.”
Finding confidence despite my size is something I’ve always taken pride in. Do you know how uncomfortable it is for someone who hates being in the spotlight to have it thrust upon you simply with the height of your body? In my twenties, I always felt the heat in my cheeks walking into a club with my normal-sized petite friends. If I was smart, I would have found another tall chub to walk in with. NooOOOOoo, I had to walk in with the blond/brunette 5’4 – 5’6 height slim friends so people could mistake me for their bouncer, body guard, or dikey friend. If I was smarter, I would not overcompensate for confidence with 3 inch heels. I was usually uncomfortable-looking and never was asked to dance or bought a drink for. Literally. This is not said for sympathy, just context.
Vanity has never been big on my list of worries despite what I have pointed out. I wear make up when I want to and my hair is usually in a clip. Hair and make up are a constant class I just kind of peek in and see if it’s worth a sit down.
Now i’m 41 with braces. I’m 41 with braces covering a couple of gaps in my mouth where teeth once resided. I had baby teeth that lasted far beyond their expectancy. The only bonus of the braces is that they helped distract from the gaps… though never fully covered them up. I have had to hide my smile for the last year and a half. Every picture with kids, with friends, with the husband, every laughing moment, every fun candid feeling always vigilant to shut my lips tight so evidence of my current status does not show. All the work and appreciation for myself being comfortable in my own skin has gone out the window with a few pulled teeth and orthodontia.
Now I get to move onto the next step: implants. Huzzah! First I have to have the braces removed, which I honestly cannot WAIT to have happen. No more wires poking, cutting, rubbing. Caramel can very slightly come back into my life. The next part is where my 12 year old insecure inner child rears her embarrassed head. Prep for a dental implant is not immediate. I have to wait some time before an actual post is put into my mouth.
Today my wonderful husband stumbled into a land mine on the phone with me. The sheer act of having to have a conversation with someone else about buying teeth, affording teeth, implanting teeth sent me over the edge. It’s humiliating. It’s not normal! He is, of course, my best friend and knows all of my deep dark secrets and loves me no matter what blah, blah blah. Having to discuss the plan for replacing my teeth with him reduced me to a rocking, crying blubbering moron feeling like a giant piece of white trash.
What is the first image that comes to mind when thinking about an ignorant, trashy person in terms of physicality? Teeth. What is your first impression you make on someone? A smile. I have a perfect trifecta of humiliation; unusual height, overweight, and visibly missing teeth.
I would love to say that I am an elevated human being who does not discriminate or judge based on looks. I would be a big fat liar. I do. Despite my best intentions, I do. I see the instant reaction people have when I laugh uninhibited at a joke and they get the full force of my mouth. I see the change in the face of the cashier who is open and friendly until I answer a question or smile.
I will try my hardest to find some sort of positive spin on being a 5’11 over 250lb adult who will be waiting not-so-patiently for teeth to be implanted into my mouth.