Body Talk

For a childhood fever, the doctor gave me Tetracycline. As a side effect, my adult teeth came in with almost no enamel. Enamel is the shiny, white, smooth, sexy part of the tooth. It would be nice to have some. Dentin, which I have in abundance, is yellow like old bones and permeable like shale, given to breakage and to deep grooves that attract stains. Imagine Keith Richards swilling a blend of coffee and urine and you have an idea of what my teeth came in looking like.

To the normal agonies of adolescence, add teeth that put the viewer in mind of pirates and mummies. (On top of which, I was short, very skinny, afraid of everything, and had blackheads.) As a boy I learned to smile with my lips closed, and I still do so without thinking about it. In photographs, even when I am content, I often appear to be frowning or pondering or merely pretending to smile because of this now conditioned muscular behavior.

I am a public speaker and appearance matters, but there is nothing I can do about the look of my smile. Whitening won’t work because whitening requires enamel. Crowning all my teeth would take at least $40,000, and I never seem to have $40,000 lying around.

Then in my 40s, I developed serious gum disease, complete with rapid bone loss. Left untreated, it would certainly cause me to lose my teeth. It would also, for medical reasons I’m not qualified to summarize, greatly increase the chance of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and subject me to constant infection (and thereby, as well, to diseases that take advantage of a continually overtaxed immune system). The bone loss means the teeth are not strong enough to support crowns, so even if someone handed me $40,000, I couldn’t use it to build a pretty smile.

I have other health problems but they don’t bug me like the mouth business.

The other thing that pulverizes my self esteem is these Michael Douglas jowls that have somehow attached themselves to my head. They say to me what her spreading hips say to a woman. To make these jowls disappear, I would need to lose all the other fat on my body first. Like the hips, that’s just how it works. Even Steve Jobs has some middle-aged jowl on his otherwise starved frame.

I’m sure even Brad Pitt has something he hates about his body. An elbow that sometimes chafes, for instance. But is he man enough to tell you about it?

[tags]glamorous, myglamorouslife, zeldman, dentin, enamel, jowls, hips, aging, selfimage, selfesteem, body[/tags]