I Love Your Smile: An Ode To Gap Teeth

Tell the haters to kiss your ass… Your gap is awesome.

[Image description: Beautiful black woman smiles wide for the camera. She has a medium sized gap in her teeth. She looks awesome!/via FashionSteeleNYC.com]

I am pretty sure I spent every day hating my teeth from April 1992 to the day I got braces in the spring of 1995. I had a large gap in my teeth. It had never been used against me growing up in Panama. If the kids teased me for it, I don’t remember, so it is inconsequential.

American school children are a special kind of merciless, however. I learned to weaponize any and every flaw my “opponent” had from my experience going to school in the United States. I think it’s because of their proximity to capitalism and the materialistic superficiality it radiates. I’ll get into that in another post, but what I’m trying to say is this: I was fucked the minute I walked through the doors and opened my mouth.

Being foreign was bad enough. Having natural hair was an offense that made me an outcast. The gall of being the aforementioned and having gap teeth? Insubordinate and punishable by death (by murder of my self-esteem). By the time my mother was finally able to afford the dental insurance (and the thousand dollar deductible) for braces, I despised my gap with the burning fire of a thousand suns.

[Image description: Supermodel Slick Woods smiles her signature smile in a black and white photo./via Tumblr]

To be fair, the overbite was obnoxious, and I was prone to injuries to my mouth. I did ask to keep a smaller gap, but you can’t fix an overbite without eliminating the space. And so it was lost… Sort of. I’ve worn braces twice and it threatened to come back, so I started donning my retainer again. It was during a conversation with my little girl sparked, by my retainer use, that I was inspired to write this.

I told her I loved her smile — and I do because it brightens any room or circumstance she’s in. I think of her smile and smile myself. Yet, she said she did not like her smile because it wasn’t “normal”. She said she didn’t see many people with smiles like hers. This was a sentiment I remembered feeling growing up. Luckily for us, the internet is rife with images of beautiful women and gorgeous men with gaps of all sizes in their teeth. Madonna, Michael Strahan, Alek Wek, Uzo Aduba, Elton JohnSlick Woods and Georgia Jagger!

We both got our lives going through their images that night. And while I was super happy as I watched her eyes light up with self-acceptance, it was bittersweet. More sweet than bitter by a long shot, but I couldn’t help but mourn the loss of my own gap a bit.

[Image description: Uzo Aduba poses for a photo in front of a Netflix/Orange is the New Black background./via Essence.com]

I’ve learned that the ONLY thing that matters is the dental health of the person with the gap, and that is none of our business. Let’s be clear, however. Having a gap does not automatically mean there is anything wrong with that person’s body or oral health to begin with. I’m just saying that if there is any issue, it should be that, and only to the relevant parties. Some jackass compensating for sucking in real life is not one of those people.

Your gap makes me think of freedom, and exudes joie de vivre, so smile nice and wide. Own your gap teeth, baby. Own all the stupid ass jokes about your gap teeth and then some. Come to terms with the fact that weak people make fun of others for their (perceived or manufactured) “imperfections” because it offers some bouyancy from the heaviness of their downtrodden lives…

Then flash your gap and laugh.

I love a gap-toothed smile because it’s unique and it’s special. There is nothing abnormal about gap teeth. They easily convey a certain guilelessness within a person that I can’t quite pinpoint. Maybe it’s because when you’re unafraid to be yourself, you can’t help but keep it real. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule… But, don’t be a downer, okay?

[Image description: Georgia May Jagger inherited her dad’s signature gap teeth. She’s seen here donning sunglasses and looking at the camera in this GIF/via Buzzfeed]

Your gap teeth are a breath of fresh air in a world constantly blanketed by the smog of frippery. You stand out amongst everyone else when you flash your winning smile. Maybe that’s why some people are triggered enough to be threatened, hence their lashing out? Who cares! Just never regret the way you were born, and if you have any issues with your gap, let them be your own. Don’t absorb others’ foolishness into your psyche. Don’t fall for the bullshit.

God doesn’t make mistakes, so your gap is perfectly made… Just like you. Smile and tell the haters to have a whole stadium full of seats.