Saturday, December 19, 2009
embracing the gap
I’ve always been fat. When I was nineteen, I starved myself into skinniness (and suffered numerous health problems, but that’s another story). Without fat to obsess over, I wasn’t sure which aspect of my physicality to hate. After much awkwardness, I finally settled on – hold on to your hat – the gap between my front teeth. For the two years that I remained thin (and ill), I limited the numbers of times I smiled and chatted, especially with strangers. After all, -- gasp! -- they might see the hideous secret lurking in the front of my mouth.
Shortly thereafter, in an English Lit class in college, I learned that in Chaucer’s day, folks considered a gap between the front teeth a sign of ravenous, unbridled sexuality. Woohoo! At the time, I was (inevitably) regaining my weight, and it finally occurred to me how incredibly stupid I’d been to focus on hiding or changing myself when I should be changing the narrow, sickly beauty ideals in our media-saturated, mainstream American culture!
I love my gap now. I honestly feel it’s one of my most charming qualities. And besides, I think Chaucer’s contemporaries knew a thing or two about body symbolism. ;)