I remember when my mother and uncle tried to convince me that having a gap tooth was beautiful. At the time I dismissed it as them pushing an obviously incorrect opinion just because they had gap teeth themselves. I had a slight gap but I felt it wasn’t that noticeable.
Unbeknownst to me, I had absorbed and accepted the western narrative that the gap tooth was ugly. Watch enough TV (especially cartoons) and the bumbling, unco-ordinated, vanquished idiot is typically (either/and) dark skinned, with exaggerated features including a wide gap tooth. It doesn’t take long for us to catch the unspoken but loud drift about beauty, race, intelligence/wits, etc. Heard over and over, it becomes a real-life self fulfilling character assassination.
Years later, during a routine dental visit in Boston, my white male doctor unpromptedly offered to close my gap tooth for me. “Why? Is it going to cause health issues if I don’t?” I asked. “No” he said. “People pay a lot of money to have it closed because it improves upward mobility. And I can give you a good price”. That doctor was the first person to put explicit words to what I had seen in books and TV.
I left his office confused about why I would even consider doing such a thing as I had accepted my beauty as more than enough. Also, my gap wasn’t even that noticeable. Come on?! Were there no limits to decimating peoples self-confidence? I guess my uncle and mothers words worked to some extent. See I also realized that day that if unchecked, people will suffocate you with their own standards and obliterate your very essence. Remember, love yourself. Because what you repeat, about and to yourself, will stick to you and everyone else around you.