How Vain are You?

While I take a short reprieve from telling you my life story and how I got to where I am today, I wanted to talk about all those things that people start to do as they get older to help them look younger. Botox? Liposuction? Dying your hair? Facelift? Dental implants? Cabinets full of anti-aging creams?

Truthfully, I haven’t done any of these. First of all, I’ve been blessed with some pretty good genes. I have no gray hair (seriously, none) and wrinkles on my face are slim to none. I’m not exaggerating here, either. Most people I meet think I’m in my mid-to-late 40s. The fact that I’ve raised a teenage daughter during my 50s has also kept me young and “hip”, particularly with social media. Not only do I Facebook, but I Instagram and Snapchat.

But, I do have one feature that has plagued me most of my adult life. Apparently my mother took some type of medication when she was pregnant with me so that she would not miscarry. Remember, she was 45 years old and also had three prior miscarriages. That being said, apparently the medication caused a darkening of my teeth from the inside out, something that no white strips or polishing will ever correct. My teeth are not yellow, just a very light shade of gray. When I was younger, well, quite frankly, I don’t think teeth whitening was a thing, and so it really wasn’t an issue for me. But, as time went on, teeth starting getting whiter, and mine continued to not only stay dark, but also started to shift.

In my late-30s, I investigated what it would take to have a perfect mouth. First, I would have to get braces, have approximately six teeth pulled in the process and then have the braces on for two years. Twenty years ago, this would have cost me $7,000. Then I would have to have veneers made for my teeth to make them be white–another $7,000–for a total of $14,000. I resigned myself to say, I’m not that vain.

Sometimes I wonder if this has contributed to my overall lack of self esteem. When I meet people for the first time, I often wonder, “Are they looking at my teeth? Do they wonder why I don’t get them whitened?” I’ve contemplated going through the process to fix them now, twenty years later, because I think, with a perfect smile, well, maybe I could land a hot date with a 30-something! Other times, I think that the pain (teeth being pulled, tightening of braces) and the cost–well, is it really worth it at this point in my life? Will a perfect smile make me feel better about myself, make me feel more youthful and add enjoyment and pleasure to my later years in life? Is there a price tag that you can place on that? Is it really vanity, or just wanting to feel good about yourself?

So for you, maybe it’s not your smile, but you might be struggling with something else–gray hair, wrinkles, cellulite, whatever. Expensive procedures to help slow down the aging process or change what isn’t quite right–is it about vanity? Or, is it a means of sanity for the last quarter of your life?