Friday, September 27, 2013

Since when did the dentist's office become about that?

I've been to the dentist quite a few times these past few months.  After going in for a cleaning and finding I had multiple cavities, it required several appointments {five, to be exact ... not that I was counting} to get all of the work done.

Since our last dentist had moved away {which was part of the reason why I hadn't been seen in so long - as he left sometime during Little Lady's pregnancy}, I started all of the work with a new dentist in town who has been really great throughout all the various visits.

Until the last one.

Now, I still do like the dentist.  He's a really nice guy, and great at what he does.  But at the end of my last visit, instead of saying, "Okay, see you in 6 months for your next cleaning!", instead he asked me if I wanted to do professional teeth whitening.

The fact that he offered teeth whitening didn't bother me so much, but how he said it did.  He offered it after commenting on the fact that my teeth weren't as white as they could be and that some of the other girls my age often get their teeth whitened because they like how it looks with their appearance, implying that I should feel the same way.

I know that part of his job is to sell his services because he has to eat too, but it just came off in a way I didn't appreciate.  Mainly, as I was sitting there talking to him about it, I was thinking of my baby daughter.  Thinking of how no matter where you go - even the dentist - as a woman you're being judged on your appearance and told you need to look a certain way or conform to a certain standard.  I was thinking about how I would feel if someone said that to her, and how upset I would be if someone did say something to Little Lady like that.

I know part of this could be an overreaction due to insecurity, but at the same time I also feel like this is one of the reasons why women sometimes don't feel comfortable in their own skin.  I mean, if I can't even go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned without hearing about how I could look better physically, it's sending a strong message.

I know that I do things to make myself look a certain way, like coloring my hair or wearing make-up.  But that's because I like how I look that way, it makes me happy - it's not because someone else told me I wasn't meeting the standards of the other females in my age group.

That night I went home and thought about it a little.  I realized that there was no way in heck I either wanted or needed to have my teeth professionally whitened and that anyone who thinks that's something I should do doesn't matter enough to me to bother with it.  I'm happy in my own skin.  I'm happy with who I am.  That includes who I am on the inside and on the outside - even if it isn't perfect, even if I like some parts and not others, even if maybe my teeth aren't as white as they can be.

It's who I am, and I'm just fine with that.

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6 comments:

  1. Well, I imagine he didn't mean anything by it. I thought you were going to say that they said something NOT related to teeth. Perhaps he didn't put it in the best way, buy it doesn't sound like he was "judging" you. I imagine he would tell men the same thing? A car dealer might tell you you would look great in this new car, a salesmen might tell you these shoes make your legs look longer...they are salesmen though, they have to sell. If you are so "happy in your own skin" couldn't you just smile and say "no, but thank you anyway"? I thought this was going to be something totalluy unrelated to dentistry like them commenting on breastfeeding or your hair or simething totally uncalled for...

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    1. This dentist does quite frequently comment on my personal appearance as he tells me every time I go that I have a specific celebrity doppelgänger, but that is more of a light tone and doesn't address specifics so it doesn't bother me.

      I am comfortable in my own skin, however I was at that appointment with a professional for a cleaning. I feel like, while at a lesser scale, it would be similar to my feelings on my Ob offering breast augmentation or my ENT offering rhinoplasty for cosmetic reasons while I was there for a check up. Whether or not they are a business, commenting on my aesthetics is inappropriate and unfortunately only helps to further the culture that drives women to an impossible, unattainable ideal.

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  2. I was at the dntist yesterday, adn saw that they offer botox now too :(

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  3. I completely agree; it's a serious problem! Our culture is so obsessed with women looking just the "right way"; and anyone who isn't cookie cutter perfect are supposed to fix themselves. But in reality, the people who think that are the ones that need to be fixed!

    I'm having my first daughter in January and this is something I worry about. Girls start having that pressure put on them to be culturally beautiful so early it's scary!

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