Over the holiday season, my husband and I watched some of the free movie channels that were offered. As it turns out, a few of the flicks that we had taken in were set in the 80’s or 90’s—-our growing up era. You know, oldie but goodies. But not that great apparently, as I struggle to remember any of the titles at the moment. Maybe it has something to do with my post-turkey state of comatose.
In two of the movies in particular, I immediately noted the character’s teeth and commented so to my husband who made the same observation. It was hard not to notice. In place of the pasty white smiles which everyone these days has paid dearly for, people’s teeth were yellow or yellowish. Natural-looking. It was a most unexpectedly welcome sight. It really was. The difference in colour from then to now in some cases is night and day given that some of today’s pearly whites are practically neon-like in appearance.
I understand the desire to bleach out stained teeth (I’ve looked into it myself), but the dental community seems to have mistaken the difference between lightening and super white brightening. Add in the ever-popular veneers and so many smiles look the exact same leaving individuality and perhaps even some personality behind. In truth, it is similar to mask-wearing now with COVID-19 wherein it’s hard to recognize and/or connect with people beneath their face covering proving that smiles are not only unique, but that they matter a lot. So much so, that obviously some people feel the need to ‘improve’ upon theirs, but is it at the cost of losing part of their identity? Is it fair to wonder what they were like before acquiring their new upside down frowns? Whether I’m talking about the teeth or the person, I’m not sure. Both, or maybe it’s one in the same.
Similarly, last weekend as we watched some of the infamous, Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve festivities on TV, there was a music segment with Jennifer Lopez whose appearance seems so altered from her ‘Jenny on the block’ days. Obviously, she’s aged like the rest of us, but that’s not it. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a beautiful, talented lady who clearly works out like nobody’s business, but I’m not sure that her image needs to match that of the twenty and thirty year-old entertainers out there. She’s a mid-centenarian after all and while she claims to have embraced her age, her ‘refreshed’ look says otherwise as is the case with so many other artists who fear the normal aging process. Just like one’s bleached teeth, tucks and pulls here and there tend to change one’s uniqueness, if you will. I understand why people, especially celebrities, feel the need to ‘keep up’ with the young ones, but somehow something gets lost along the way in doing so. Many folks end up looking like put-on versions of themselves or worse yet, put-on versions of someone else.
That being said, it’s not my place at all to judge another person and what makes them happy. Nor should I assume that fake teeth and taut skin inherently change who they are somehow. Clearly, it’s only my perception talking. I guess it’s just that these things are so oddly noticeable that it leaves me to wonder the real ‘why’ behind it. Is it so wrong to age naturally or leave our imperfections as they are, teeth and all? Now, if enhancements are used to achieve a personal level of happiness, then so be it, but I suspect others’ opinions and/or expectations have more to do with it than anything else which is the sad part.
If we could all travel back in time to the 80’s or 90’s before the age of whitened teeth or ‘touch-ups’ aplenty, would yellow teeth and sagging skin be more acceptable? Or knowing what we know now, would we stick with the super bright white and tightening techniques and if so, why? Would those who have made significant changes keep them or would they rather revert back to their ‘original’ selves? Does one’s individuality become somewhat obscured by superficial changes or is it simply a perception thing in the eye of the beholder?
All I know is that I’m okay with smiles of all kinds and when the days of masks are behind us, I think we will all be a whole lot happier regardless of teeth colour or skin appearance. Yellow or white, wrinkly or tight—bring them on!