I was scrolling down my Facebook feed one day when I saw a beautiful picture of a young lady and fellow UofH aluma. When I stopped to read the caption I was instantly inspired. The caption talked about her pride in her gapped smile. I admired the confidence and self-love with which she spoke. Here's the interview I did with her about it. It's truly an example of how we should look at ourselves. I was blessed and I hope you are as well. Everyone, Ms. Katrina...
1. Do you think pretty hurts? How?
I would say no, pretty doesn’t hurt, pretty only hurts when you allow it to. You have to define your own pretty and learn to stop believing society’s misconstrued perceptions of beauty. According to society, I normally would not fit under “pretty”. My chocolate skin, my kinky hair, my imperfect teeth, my larger feet, the list goes on and on. There are so many qualities that I could choose to hate about myself because society teaches me to do so, but I refuse. Beauty is internal, it’s up to the individual to find their own pretty. It doesn’t hurt.
2. How old were you when you first noticed or started paying attention to your gap?
To be honest I never really paid attention to it at all, I didn’t notice my teeth were different for a LONG time, to this day I still forget at times. LOL. Most children aren’t blessed with straight teeth from birth so I don’t think it was ever just something I acknowledged as wrong or different from my peers around me.
3. Did you like or dislike it?
I have always pretty much liked my gap. I’m not sure why. As a child that is a mature choice, especially when gaps mainly have negative connotations. I liked my gap for unusual reasons though, like sticking my straw between my teeth to take sips, or wrapping my tongue in between. I also thought it made my smile just a little more comical, and I’ve always been humorous and playful. My gap just matches my personality, and even though I didn’t recognize that as a child, I’ve just always been attached to it.
4. When did you realize societal beauty didn't leave any room for your "flawed" smile?
It’s not something that ever just hit me, I just began to notice with time that gaps weren’t considered a “good thing”. When you watch T.V. shows and movies, andall the “ugly” characters always have a gap, or when you hear people use the term “bucked teeth” towardssomeone with teeth similar to yours, it just all starts weighing in with time. Yet still, after realizing what the majority of society thought about it, I never chose to focus on it or allow that to be a reason to feel insecure.
5. What was your reaction? How did that make you feel about society and it's standards?
Girl it just rolled off me like a water pellet on a ducks back. If there is one thing I love and appreciate about my mother is the confidence she has instilled in me from birth. She has always uplifted me and told me how beautiful I was. To me it’s so important to speak words of life and love to your children in a society that doesn’t. My mother did this for me and I desire to do the same for my own someday. By the time I realized how society felt about my gap, I really didn’t care LOL.
6. Did you ever think that you needed to conform to the beauty "standard?" Why or why not?
I can admit I have felt this insecurity for quick segments of time (and I mean quick, like a passing thought) more-so when it has come to the color of my skin. Again, I LOVE the color of my skin. I receive compliments about my complexion ALL the time and most times when I have even gotten 2 shades darker in the summer. It was mostly when I was younger though. The lighter-skinned girls always got all the attention, in the majority of rap songs you hear theshout-outs to the “yellow-bones” and not much love for the chocolate girls. In the same way though, I have always been pretty confident so I didn’t let it get to me much, yet I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit there have been a few fleeting moments of insecurity concerning my own beauty from time to time.
7. If so, What did you do to try to fit in?
There was nothing really I COULD do so I neverreally meditated on it. I would just find features about myself that I really loved and would focus on that instead. There was a time though when I really reallywanted longer hair. I tried to get products that would make it grow longer. Needless to say it didn’t work, in fact my hair didn’t grow longer until I learned to love and take care of it in its natural state…but that’s an entirely different conversation.
8. What was the pivotal moment at which you realized that, not only is your gap a part of you, but something that makes you even more uniquely beautiful?
All these years when I’ve looked at myself in the mirror I never saw me AND my gap, I never saw my teeth AND my gap, I have always just seen me and my smile. It wasn’t until I went to the dentist and was given the option to get braces that things were really put into perspective. I responded to my dentist “well, I would get braces but I don’t want to close my gap”. It took me a moment to realize that was the reason he mentioned braces in the first place. My response was just so confident and natural though, and it was in that moment that I realized I have a remarkable sense of self-love. It doesn’t make me the least bit cocky or egotistical either. In society we are so often taught to hate ourselves and focus on the negatives instead of the positives. I’m proud of myself for going against the grain, I’m proud of myself for loving me just the way I am.
9. What did you do to make sure that your gap was seen as a unique feature rather than a flaw?
When I smile, I smile BIG! In every picture or every time I laugh I show ALL my pearly whites haha. I have nothing to hide. I’m not ashamed of my gap and I want the world to know that.
10. You're a beautiful young woman. Do people act as if your gap is an unfortunate or as if you are pretty in spite of your gap? Like because you're pretty you shouldn't be burdened with a flaw?
Honestly people have never made mention of it. Sometimes people don’t even acknowledge I have one until it comes up in a conversation or they really just take a strong look at me. I like that. I like that it’s not a “thing” or that people don’t see me AND a gap, they just see me. I will say though, one that I ALWAYS get is “you’re soooo pretty…for a dark-skinned girl”. I admit there was a time when I would receive that compliment with proudness until I got older and realized how ignorant and backhanded of a statement that truly is. Now when I hear it, I make a conscious decision to either address it, or attribute it to ignorance and let it go, but I ALWAYS acknowledge the stupidity and absurdity of it.
11. What things have people said about your gap vs. your beauty?
I’ve never really gotten a negative remark towards my gap. Either I’ve just been really blessed all these years or maybe people just don’t make a big deal out of it anymore. I’ve actually gotten plenty of compliments concerning my smile instead. People always tell me it’s very beautiful and uplifting, and when they say it they never even make note of my gap. I think it’s just a blessing to see a smiling face in a society that can be so cruel and unusual, people appreciate that.
12. How have you dealt with the comments?
I say thank you and give them an even bigger smile :D
13. How do you use your gap and your beauty to your advantage, whether with others or to yourself?
I consider myself to have a very unconventional beauty to begin with. Dark skin for one, kinky afro-texted hair, a gapped smile, I’m not very voluptuous (which seems to be like a thing now). Yet people still find me very beautiful, and I think that’s really awesome. It’s nice that people are being challenged to see beauty in a different light. I like that people are seeing me as beautiful in an untypical way…that is an advantage in itself. I think society is slowly but surely making some changes in perspective. I’m starting to see dark-skin being more embraced along with natural hair. Gaps, not so much yet haha, but we have to start somewhere right?
14. If you could say one thing to the world about your gap, what would it be?
I’m a gappy-girl and I’m proud :D
15. What do you want most of all for women to know about self-love, confidences, and esteem?
I know it sounds cliché but it’s the honest truth: beauty is found from within. People are most beautiful with they see themselves as such and it reflects on the outside. There is no magic formula for beauty, confidence, and self-esteem; it’s all a matter of perspective. So just hold your heads up high and your backs up straight until you truly believe it for yourself. In the meantime as the good old saying goes: fake it till ya make it! :D hehe –Love Katrina