I was born with a gap teeth, so was my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother, and… well you get the point. On my very first day of primary school, I was trying to make friends with a group of girls, when one of them pointed at my gap teeth and began laughing uncontrollably. I ran away weeping like any ten year old would, but that little girl’s laughter was only the beginning of just how much I would get mercilessly teased about it for the next several years.
I developed several coping mechanisms in order to live with myself and my “unsightly”gap teeth. I stopped smiling in pictures, even when I did it was always a small tight lipped smile that didn’t show my teeth. I hardly laughed at jokes, and always did so behind my hand when I couldn’t help it. I learnt how to talk in such a manner, that my teeth didn’t show much, of course to achieve that, also meant I had to also stop talking too much. I stuck to these habits till I became an adult, even when it seemed nobody really cared about my gap teeth anymore and hardly ever got teased about it, I still couldn’t shake them off.
I finally got my gap fixed last year, and felt great about it for exactly a week. It started with my mother asking why I would get rid of something that was a part of me and not a deformity. This was followed by comments from close friends about how different, I looked and how they had liked my gap teeth.
Every seemingly negative comment about me getting my gap fixed was met with a snide “ehn is it not my teeth?” or “why didn’t you tell me that one since?”
After exactly a week, I started to realize what everyone else had been trying to say, my gap teeth had been part of my identity and fixing it suddenly felt like I had lost a part of my self. I missed pushing my tongue in and out of the gap, especially when I got nervous, pictures of me smiling with my fixed teeth, seemed forced and plastic compared to the few candid pictures I had with my gap tooth showing. It’s been a year, and I still miss having gap teeth.