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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Space Between the Teeth

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This idiom is believed to have first occurred in Greece during the Third Century BC. But, we come to anticipate how things are supposed to look by seeing prototypes. When someone or some thing matches the prototype of beauty portrayed at the time, our brains easily pick up the signals and we believe we have seen beauty.

The prototype of a beautiful woman today is almost unattainable by natural means. Face it, so-called "flaws" are driving women to do almost anything to change their looks to achieve 21st Century America's prototype of womanly perfection.

What about those so-called "flaws"? Are they really flaws at all, or do we often falsely perceive them to be? Let's look at one such example by first examining a little history.

Tim Page of reports the following: "A gap in your teeth is the sign of Venus - the goddess of love! Being gap-toothed was regarded as a sign of a strongly-sexed nature in the Middle Ages as told in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale from "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer.

In some African tribes having a gap in your front teeth was a sign of wisdom and in France they call it "les dents du bonheur" (teeth of happiness)! There was even a film made by Les Blank in 1987 called Gap-Toothed Women, which explores different connotations of gap-teeth such as a beauty mark or as a sign of an amorous nature."

2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Jessica Hart has a big gap in her front two teeth, but she has refused to have it closed because she would have to have her gum snipped and wear braces for three years. She claims some people won't book her because of her little "flaw," and sometimes clients close the gap in post production.

Jessica says the whole controversy over her gapped teeth doesn't bother her. She is busy concentrating on eating correctly and exercising. In addition, she can play the Cello and has aspirations of being a human rights ambassador for her native country, Australia. The gap in her two front teeth is just not that important to her, even as a model.

This story interests me for two reasons. The first reason is that I, too, have a gap between my teeth, and, like Jessica, I have refused to have it filled. Don't get me wrong, I'm not model material, but I have always believed that a basic physical "flaw" does not affect people's overall perception of who I am. In fact, the gap may be a vital part of my whole unique character.

The second reason this story intrigues me is that in this day of idolization of perfection in beauty, it's refreshing to see someone who is willing to fight the system for her ideals. Jessica has come to terms with a slight "flaw" and used it to her advantage. Obviously, she is a very beautiful woman regardless of her gapped teeth, and perhaps her overall appearance benefits from her confidence shown while displaying them. People, thus, are actually attracted by her smile.

 In these times of people's willing transformations to fit society's one perception of beauty, Jessica is making news. This is good news to those of us who refuse to conform for the sake of conformity. And, this is good news to those who refuse to define beauty as a singular, measured, exact set of traits. Jessica, you are indeed, inside and outside, beautiful. Thanks for being yourself.

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