The question comes up time and again on the Metal Mouth Forum: will the gals (or guys) find my braces to be a turn-off? Will I be destined to spend the next few years in a dateless wasteland?
If you're single and getting braces, this is a serious question. Whether you are 18 or 48, you don't want to be alone just because you have some brackets on your teeth for a few years.
Before you head to the nearest rooftop and scream, "So I have braces, what's the big friggen deal?" read on...
I've seen this question asked many times, and the answer is always the same: the men worry that they look like geeks, and the woman re-assure them that if they are nice guys and are attractive in other ways, it does NOT affect the way others see them. Generally, men seem to have a harder time with braces than women. Perhaps this is because women have other factors at work -- and that teenage cheerleader look isn't always a bad thing when it comes to attracting men.
In reality, how the object of your affection reacts to you has little to do with what's in your mouth, and a lot to do with other things. Like your image, your self-confidence, and your willingness to work just a little harder to win over the person you want. I've never known anyone to say, "Ewww, he/she has braces, I'd never consider dating him/her." And if anyone DOES say or think that, just tattoo a big L on their foreheads, because they are shallow losers -- and you wouldn't want to date them anyway!
Sure, braces are a stereotype. The little girl in Finding Nemo is the perfect example -- slightly ugly, nerdy and mean. On the other side of the spectrum, in real life, there is Tom Cruise. Would any woman kick him out of bed because of his ceramic brackets? (well, ok, Nicole Kidman kicked him out of bed, but I don't think his braces had anything to do with it...)
For that matter, would any man have kicked Gwen Stefani or Nikki Taylor out of bed for their metal mouths? OK, I rest my case. (Photo to the right here is Tom Cruise in his Clarity ceramic brackets).
Also keep in mind the some people have a fetish for braces. So if someone who didn't pay attention to you previously suddenly gets very interested after you get braces, that may be the reason.
You are spending major bucks to get your teeth straightened. When you are done, your teeth will look great. What about the rest of you? Use this time as an opportunity to improve other things about yourself, especially if you weren't a dating champion before the braces went on. Think of this as your "transformation time."
Here's the main idea: if you look better, you'll feel better; if you feel better, you'll be more confident. And if you look good and are confident, you are sexy and attractive to other people. (Photo to the left here is Gwen Stefani in metal brackets).
Ideas for Women
This is a great time to spend a few extra bucks and have a professional make-over. Take a good look at yourself. What could be changed? Your makeup? Your hair? Your wardrobe?
Many day spas and salons offer hair and make-up consultations for reasonable prices. Get yourself out of any rut you may be in and splurge on a new or updated look. If your make-up looks better, they'll be looking at your beautiful eyes and that great hair, and won't notice your teeth.
Color consultants were big in the 1980s, and they're still around today. A color or image consultant can help you update your wardrobe and dress you in colors compatible with your complexion. If you want to do it without professional help, take a trusted fashion-savvy girlfriend or relative (NOT your mother) on a trip to the mall. Take a good look at what's out there and buy yourself a few great new outfits that accentuate your coloring and your figure.
Are you in shape or near your ideal weight? If not, start an exercise and sensible eating plan and try to stick to it. I know, easier said than done, but it's worth it.
Ideas for Men
Have you seen the show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"? If not, the premise is: five gay guys invade the life of a hopelessly fashion-blind straight guy and turn him into an enthusiastic and well-groomed metrosexual, often to the drooling delight of their significant other (below is a photo of the "Fab Five").
I'm not implying that you are fashion blind, but everyone can use a little look-over now and again, just to get out of a fashion rut. You don't necessarily need five gay guys with TV cameras to do this for you -- you can do some of it yourself.
The pages of GQ or Details are a good place to start, but if that's too daunting, go to a high-quality (and/or trendy) men's store in your area and ask a salesperson for ideas. I know it sounds perilous, but you don't have to actually buy anything, just see what somebody else thinks would look good on you, and think about it. If you are friends with a fashion-savvy guy, or a trusted woman with hip good taste (sister, aunt, cousin -- NOT your mother) see if they'll come along to help you. Go out on a limb and buy an outfit or two that looks great on you. Women appreciate a well-dressed guy.
Next, don't be shy about heading over to a day spa for a skin consultation. You'd be surprised how many men get skin treatments these days. Have you ever had a facial? If not, you're missing something really nice! The idea here is: improve your skin, if necessary.
Then, there's the haircut. Have you had the exact same haircut for more than 5 years? If so, maybe it's time for something a bit updated. You don't need to look like you just stepped out of an artsy-fartsy hairstyle catalogue -- you just need a style that looks good on you and is appropriate for your age and in step with today's styles.
Finally, consider getting to your ideal weight and improving your physical appearance and strength overall. If a good-looking, in-shape man in nice clothes approached me for a date, I wouldn't give a hoot about a little bit of metal in his mouth -- I'd be looking at the rest of him, and listening to what words were coming out of his mouth!
Ideas for Anyone
Aside from this, you might want to take a few hours -- or even days -- to assess your life as a whole. Are you happy? What do you want to change? What do you want to get out of your life? What type of partner would fit into your ideal life? Put it down on paper or type it into your word processor! Don't be restrained by reality -- dream a little bit.
Seeing it there in black and white can be very helpful. I did this years ago, and when I met my future husband, I looked at that sheet of paper and realized that he had all the qualities I was looking for, and even more. Right then and there, I knew he was worth seriously considering as a life partner. And so he has been, 18 years and two kids later...and he's the one who really pushed me to get braces a few years ago! In fact, nowadays I thank him for marrying me, despite my crooked teeth!
Sometimes finding the right person means knowing who you are and what you want. I've heard it said before, and I've seen it work: "Know and love yourself, and others will find you."
Or, in the words of author Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."