Just yesterday, someone who follows me on Instagram, mentioned that they missed my “text” updates on my Instagram stories. Where I “talk” with my “followers”.

Both talk and followers are in double quotes because I feel that the meaning of the words has changed on social media. Talking would imply that even if there isn’t voice involved, there’s some form of conversation. Which there rarely is with maybe 0.001% of those who “follow” me. It’s more like text messaging than an actual conversation. The latter being what I would much prefer.

If you’ve clicked on the “follow” button on my profile on any of the social media platforms, you’re a “follower”. But are you? There are maybe a handful of people who actually follow what I’m upto on a daily basis and I might be a bit creeped out by it.

Of course, I digress.

I’m here to talk about appearance. My appearance and the kind of feedback I receive and what I perceive from it.

Now, my face and body have several flaws. Like everyone else. I’ll stick to the ones that are more publicly visible :

Firstly, there’s a tooth missing on my upper jaw, which is an old bicycle accident. Early 1990’s. The other teeth quickly tried to swallow up the space and the middle of my teeth is no longer aligned with the middle of my nose – or the middle of my lower jaw’s set of teeth.

And there’s an artificial tooth right up front on the upper jaw. From the same injury. An Army Doctor fixed it, probably in the late 1990’s & did a great job for that decade. It hasn’t aged well and another dentist has, quite rudely, said that it looks like a “chiclet”. ( It is / was a brand of chewing gum that is like a stark white cheeseling – a small white pillow, rectangular almost. )

I’ve thought about smiling less. Or smiling small. But I always come back to, “Fuck that”. Also because my facial expressions are quite out of control. I cannot not smile or deliver a guttural laugh if the occasion demands it. I’m pretty sure no one’s scrutinizing my teeth while having a conversation with me. And if they are, well, that’s their problem. As long as my teeth are clean and my breath doesn’t stink, I’m not thinking about the discomfort of others.

That’s the most obvious “flaw” that’s clearly displayed for all to see.

I’ve chatted with a couple of dentists about straightening my teeth – all of them – the bottom jaw is hilariously skewed out of place – jagged. I’ve noticed that John Oliver got his teeth corrected – his bottom set was quite similar to mine. I’m not hosting my own show on television but I do work with brands that want my face to be visible with their product. I HAVE thought about all this. I’m still not convinced that an aligned set of teeth is going to increase my bank balance or imbue my life with richer experiences.

I laugh heartily & like that about me. I’ll be laughing like that when I’m old & have no teeth left. I don’t think I’ll be 75 years old, grateful that I got my teeth done. I think I’ll be 75 years old and grateful that I still laugh like I’m going to bring the roof down.

Onto some of the other “flaws”. One of my nostrils is smaller than the other. One of my eyebrows is not as good as the other – also, I over-plucked them when I was in college and the damage has never really been undone. A bad laser treatment in the late 2000’s activated hair growth under my chin – I pluck those out or shave them every two weeks or so. My nose-hair is a genetic problem from my Dad’s side. I use a nose-hair-trimmer every 2 or 3 weeks otherwise there’s this one particular hair that literally curls out from one nostril and goes into the other. No kidding. I don’t have “pretty” hands but they do do all the work – mainly lifting the camera, clicking the shutter button, editing and writing on the laptop, painting etc. Stubby fingers get the job done. Who cares how they look? Etcetera etcetera.

I’m not saying that appearances don’t matter. They do. What I’m saying is that I believe it’s more of an “overall” look, than specifics about each facial or body feature / part. If I dress well – clean, ironed, non-smelly; if I’m groomed well – clipped nails, washed & moisturized face, non-smelly, combed hair; if I’m well-mannered – polite, courteous, hearty; if I do my job well – am punctual, I actually do what I say, keep it professional; then who is coming to measure the gap in my teeth anyway?

I think I’m quite attractive and only a little of it has to do with “looks”. It is who I am that makes me appealing. I genuinely like hanging out with people. I like doing a good job when I’m at a gig. I like representing my clients to the best of my professional ability. My smiles always crinkle the edges of my eyes. I love laughing like there’s no tomorrow. Loud & clear.

Ain’t no appearance nonsense going to stop me from any of these. I’m more concerned and focused on what the insides of my body look like more than the outside – health wealth etc.

I’m not a fan of identifying myself with a particular caste or religion but for the sake of context, I’m a Jat girl, originally from a small village in the state of Haryana ( one of India’s states leading in female foeticide numbers ), from a lower middle class family, who put a lot of her life, appearance and all, on the internet.

There are a million ways my life could have gone sideways, wonky, horrible and miserable. I’m grateful for the randomness that led me to where I am today. My teeth, are not a problem, at all.

( Instead of posting a half-baked ten-liner on my Instagram stories, this is a not-entirely-fully-baked thousand-word piece on my blog. Hope you enjoyed reading it enough to be reading this right at the end!)

For other pieces that I’ve written over the years on this blog, see the Articles & Writing category. Yes, I write too, in addition to publishing photo-stories.

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