You Asked It

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

Advice about how to tackle eyeliner, corsets, formalwear, and your “flaws.”

I have always had horrible teeth. First of all, they’re really crooked. Even my dentist whispers about how I need braces for cosmetic reasons. Two, my teeth are bumpy because my mamelons (the bumps that adult teeth have) haven’t been worn down like most people’s. And, third, as if I needed ANOTHER reason, I’ve also got enamel hypoplasia, which means that my enamel is really thin and therefore my teeth are yellowed. I’m really self-conscious about all of this, and it’s so difficult to feel confident with my smile when my teeth are the exact opposite of what is considered beautiful and attractive. I model sometimes, and it’s getting harder and harder to resist pressures to get braces, get my teeth whitened, and have my mamelons filed down, even though I really don’t want to, and I can’t afford it. I’d love to be able to feel more confident with my teeth in a world where EVERYONE has their teeth drilled, filed, and bleached! Do you have any suggestions? —Olivia, 17, USA

Yo, so guess who shares every single one of these same tooth-related qualities (and they ARE qualities, as we will get to in a moment) with you, Olivia? THAT’S RIGHT: IT’S YOURS TRULY, MY SISTER IN MAMELON MOUTHITUDE. And that’s not all! In addition to what you describe, my front teeth have a few substantial chips and meet in, like, a pointed angle in the middle instead of an even, flat line, and the best way to describe the appearance of my bottom teeth is “drunk.” And guess what else is true of my rather ~unique~ dental situation? I don’t give even half a fuck if any of my teeth’s characteristics are considered bad by the kind of people I wouldn’t want around me in the first place, aka the kind of people who critique any part of the appearance of others (although I get that these people might be harder to avoid in your profession). Here’s my attitude toward my teeth: I take good care of them—do you know of any other human being who actually flosses? BE HONEST. And I also happen to really like the way they look, and that’s what matters.

It’s not like mouths like yours and mine are as uncommon as you seem to think, even in appearance-based industries like acting and modeling—just look at the gorgeous, unaltered chompers of Ashley Smith and Vanessa Paradis, for example, whose unconventional smiles are a large part of what makes them so alluring. And how many times have you heard people say they think irregular teeth are cute, or sexy, or whatever have you? From the way you describe yours, I’m guessing a lot, because they sound totally beautiful.

Having “perfect” teeth is, as you mention, also an issue of class and income. Growing up, my family couldn’t afford the steel mill’s worth of orthodontia that various dentists and mean classmates convinced me I couldn’t live without, so my teeth remained staunchly all over the goddamn place. I’m thankful for that now, because it forced me to get along with my snagglemouth and led me to think about the fact that you can drastically alter every other part of your face with certain kinds of makeup, but, save for long-term, dramatic procedures (and, to a lesser extent, whitening products), the teeth you have are more or less unalterable. They’re yours, and so harboring constant insecurities about them is kind of futile. Why not try to think about how cool it is that NO ONE ELSE on earth has your same set of dentures? Giving that up to fall in line with what someone else’s idea of what a mouth should look like seems kind of like a waste, my darling. Yes, your teeth are different from other people’s, but that’s a beautiful and rad and lucky thing, not a detriment to your appearance. And while of course it’s OK if you choose to change a part of your looks if you’ve given it a lot of thought and you KNOW it’ll make you happier, it doesn’t seem like you’re convinced that’ll be the case for you and your extraordinary teeth. Maybe, instead, the better option for you is to do what I did: Focus on how they make your face distinctly your own and take pride in the fact that your beauty is a singular one. Because it is.

This same idea is applicable to nearly everything you guys write to us about your bodily anxieties: It’s true of the noses that you hate for being defiantly three-dimensional instead of two flat holes poked into your face, and your gorgeous strong jawlines (all the better to keep your chins held high with, killers), and the knees you worry are somehow too flabby, as if that’s even a real thing, and, really, just THE ALL OF IT. Physical idiosyncrasies like these are the aesthetic parts of other people that make my heart pound most. When I think of the bodies of the girls I’ve swooned over in my past, I picture the amazing root system of blue veins all over my first girlfriend’s legs, or the stiff hairs that grew out of the foxy mole on my college crush’s neck, and the majestic vastness of the pores on a certain makeout partner’s nose, and I grin as I remember how stunning they were. The aberrant parts of their looks made these people feel so special and real to me, and I’d bet the farm that other people think the same of your own standout features.

Look, I’m not implying it’s petty to be concerned with how you look. Every human being, at some point or another, thinks about their outward appearance, even if they’re generally pretty into their reflections, and it can be awesome to mess around with your makeup and hair if you find that fun or it makes you feel more confident (as it does for me). But I also know from personal experience that thinking about your physicality can sometimes be way more consumptive and harmful than an occasional feeling of self-consciousness. Here’s a very true thing about being a woman: The world has been conspiring against your ability to feel good about your body since long before you were born, so when you make the decision to love yourself instead of joining in with the rest of society in torturing yourself about your looks, it’s going to be hard. You aren’t immediately going to accept your thick wrists or small butt or whatever the fuck. A lot of the media targeted at you, e.g., fashion magazines, will continue to stomp on your fledgling sense of self for a good long while to come. Even as you find yourself making progress, you will, occasionally, want nothing more than to fix your teeth. This is all normal and totally OK and also, as it’s crucial to realize, not your fault (see: centuries of beauty ideals designed to make us feel like garbage), so please don’t feel guilty if you aren’t a PERFECT BASTION OF SELF-CONFIDENCE right away (or ever). But, if you choose to fight this fight, you will begin to feel better. There will be days, then weeks, then even longer periods of time when you don’t even think about your too-high bellybutton or the fact that your eyebrows stick out or whatever inconsequential-to-everyone-else-but-awful-to-you thing is plaguing you. And, little by little, you’ll begin to feel beautiful. This usually happens right around the same time that you have the revelation that there is so much more that’s important and worthwhile about you than that, funnily enough.

Olivia, even if you’re 100% sold on orthodontia or whatever as the solution that will make you happy in this particular case (and if you are, and that’s what it takes for you to feel good when you look in the mirror, save up some cash and go for it, seriously, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS), it sounds like you know that you have another decision to make, too. Do you want to try to learn to love yourself? Or do you want to spend a lifetime picking on yourself and finding new things to hate no matter how much you try to “fix”? I can tell by your thoughtful letter that your mouth isn’t the main issue at hand here. To answer your question at its core, yes, you can feel more confident even when it seems like no one else wants you to. The fact that you’re thinking critically about this now means you’re already on your way.

I know I’m about to get all guidance counselor-y on your ass, but hear me out: Open a notebook. Write down everything that’s good about you, but don’t include anything about your physical traits. Sit and think about these things for however long it takes you to draw them into your heart and really know them. You have far more to contribute to this life and this world than a set of straight teeth. Keep that in mind when you’re baring your fangs at yourself in the mirror, and you’ll come to find you’re not doing it to remind yourself of your “flaws,” but rather to snarl at everyone who tells you to consider your mouth anything other than utterly lovely. Then smile so hard you can see each and every one of your molars, ya beauty. —Amy Rose

My school’s winter formal dance is coming up, and I NEED an outfit. But what the hell does “formal” mean? I want something cool that I can dance in—nothing too tight or too loose—and preferably something unique! Any options out there? —Molly, Washington

A formal is pretty much the same as a prom in terms of fanciness, but you don’t have to go full Cinderella ball gown—unless you want to, of course! I think the best kind of silhouette to shake dat booty in is a dress with a fitted bodice and a full skirt, like this gold number from Pin Up Girl Clothing. Here’s a similar one in blue, and this red one is also great! However, if you want to diminish the chance that someone else will be wearing the same dress, vintage is the way to go. My dream vintage pick for you would be a powder-blue ’50s-style dress with a tulle skirt, accessorized with silver so you look like a total ice princess.

winterformal

Imagine a vintage baby blue dress like the one above (or this one) with those sparkly silver shoes from Shiekh, some glittery Deborah Lippmann nail polish, and this Giant Dwarf constellation crown from Catbird. I also think sequins of any kind are a good choice—I particularly love this black dress from Etsy. Hope you have a blast! —Marie

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32 Comments

  • kathryn-s December 17th, 2013 11:19 PM

    SO GOOD SO GOOD

  • coralgirl December 17th, 2013 11:22 PM

    Woah! The answer for the corset question was awesome— I’ve been dying to know more about the history of corsetry and you provided some really helpful and interesting resources. (I couldn’t figure out who wrote the reply, but many thanks!)

    For the girl who asked, if your interested in historically based corsets (for the Marie Antoinette obsessed) check out; https://www.etsy.com/shop/redthreaded (sooo swoon worthy)

    or just search for medical corsets in the vintage section (they are usually cheaper and so fun to lace up, plus they look awesome over flowey 70′s dresses)

  • greycameo December 17th, 2013 11:30 PM

    A note about corsets– please don’t buy from Corset Story! The boning is cheap, often scrap material, and they sell rip-offs of other designers without consent. You could hurt yourself in one of their corsets. I can’t speak for Etsy, though What Katie Did is a good option but rather pricey for a beginner.

    The best price and quality for a beginner corset can be found at Orchard Corset. Typically their CS 411 is the model to turn to for a beginner, I love my black pinstripe! It’s recommended to pick a size 4-5 inches smaller than your natural waist.

  • hillarydee December 17th, 2013 11:37 PM

    Loved the answer to the first question! As someone who struggles with accepting a giant nose, I just want to share this blog with all my fellow big nosed ladies:
    http://fuckyeahbignoses.tumblr.com/
    SERIOUSLY it has made accepting my nose so much easier!!! :)

  • soviet_kitsch December 17th, 2013 11:39 PM

    amy rose you are ON FIRE. your answers made me feel all weird and cozy inside, and really set my mind at ease. i too, have weird, crooked, bumpy, yellowed, sensitive teeth, but i take excellent care of them, and honestly they’re great for eating apples. you’re so right–we have better shit to do than worry about our teeth <3 (and as per usual marie, you are also awesome as fuq)

  • julalondon December 17th, 2013 11:49 PM

    Well, i already confessed my love to you today, Amy Rose, but once again, OMG you are so funny and lovely and just seem like a great person, haha! I especially loved the first answer!=)

  • Emmie December 18th, 2013 12:04 AM

    I have to take issue with the winter formal advice- those dresses are all mega $$. High schoolers aren’t rollin’ in dough. Also, that $48 crown that is easily DIY-ed (you can even buy german glitter glass for, like, $6.) And $20 nail polish?? Come on, there are insanely cheaper options out there!

  • nikkiduck December 18th, 2013 1:54 AM

    to add to the eyeliner discussion – I picked up some e.l.f. cream eyeliner at Target for like $3 and it’s amazing! It comes with its own little angled brush and goes on perfectly every time for me. I had gotten pretty okay at liquid eyeliner, but if you don’t want to spend an agonizing 20 minutes doing your eyeliner, I highly recommend the e.l.f. one!

    • Ruby B. December 20th, 2013 1:27 PM

      elf makeup in general is the best cheap makeup in the world. their gel liner rocks!

  • vicktoi December 18th, 2013 2:04 AM

    I feel like the pressure to have “perfect” teeth is such an American thing. When I visited Europe, I was so surprised how everyone was so lax about the body in general. Pit hair? Whatever. “Bad” teeth? Nbd. Even when someone farted they would just make a joke about it and then move on with their lives as if it was no big deal.

    Also I think that irregular teeth are so charming and really add character, so go you. ^_^ Plus let’s not forget my personal girl crush Lea Seydoux whose less than perfect teeth add to her mystique and beauty.

    • Flossy Mae December 18th, 2013 6:11 PM

      Hey, I’m from Europe (London) and i’ve always wondered why us British are stereotyped as having bad teeth!! But the 1st question Kinda explained it to me….I agree with you, I’m not unecessarily bigging up the uk or anything but it’s so true what
      you said! Ironic how stylish it is to hve less-than-perfect teeth here, like Georgia may jagger and Kate moss with their gaps :’)

  • lotusmarina December 18th, 2013 2:11 AM

    four words:

    tape.
    genius.
    thank.
    you.

  • emlyb December 18th, 2013 6:22 AM

    omg THANK YOU so much for the teeth q&a, i was honestly thinking about sending a nearly identical question in.
    my teeth are really yellow naturally and i HATE them so much. (also does anyone else feel like teeth are seen as a-okay bash? like even with some feminists it kinda seems to me like they’re the one thing that is allowed to be critisized and judged) and my family can’t afford dental work, esp. because my therapy and medical care are costing so much (also in the uk you can’t get your teeth whitened if you’re under 16:(() so THANK YYOOOUUUU amy rose. i will work hard to love my teeth. i REALLY needed to hear my yellow crooked teeth are worthy of love and acceptance <333

    • ArmyOfRabbits December 18th, 2013 2:44 PM

      To be honest, I don’t think pearly white teeth look that great anyways. I have a warm-colored skin tone, and I think I like my teeth having that slight natural yellow tint. Teeth whitening doesn’t equal healthy teeth, instead it could do damage to them. That’s why it’s considered cosmetic instead of medical.

      My teeth have always been slightly crooked; when I was growing up, a few individuals had made me feel bad about having imperfect teeth. I then realized that I do my best to keep my teeth clean. Plus, it’s not like I have a hard time eating, flossing, and closing my mouth– my teeth function well!

      My boyfriend thinks my teeth make me look hot, but he’s not a superficial person, which is why I love him. I don’t need everybody to accept the way I like to look, but I have friends who love me for the way I am, and that is good enough for me.

      Lara Stone, Anna Paquin, Magibon, and Madonna are beautiful people with “imperfect” teeth. I’m sure there are a lot more out there!

  • izzywayout December 18th, 2013 10:56 AM

    i loved this!
    just one thing: the photo of georhia may jagger is actually a picture of ashley smith (my fave model ever) :)

  • Krista December 18th, 2013 11:03 AM

    WHOA WHOA THE TAPE THING OMG MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT

  • Haleyhaley2w December 18th, 2013 2:59 PM

    THE EYELINER TAPE TRICK JUST CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER. Seriously, that is revolutionary!

  • elliecp December 18th, 2013 5:31 PM

    I have to make a corset for textiles and its interesting that people still try to constrict and constrain their bodies to fit something that they are not. I personally believe you should love what you have, as long as you are comfortable and healthy then you shouldn’t have to put yourself through pain and effort to be something you’re not just for the pleasure of others <3

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • Eryn December 18th, 2013 6:38 PM

    OH MY GOODNESS THANK YOU, as someone who has spent their whole life having the notion that my life will be drastically improved by braces drilled into my mind by friends and family (‘oh, but think of how pretty you’ll be when you get braces!’), I’ve always had a hard time loving my smile & the crooked teeth that come with it. But lately I’ve had some moments of, wait, why do I need to put money and discomfort into fitting someone else’s idea of ‘perfect’? And why do my ‘friends’ care so much about the straightness of my teeth? The people who I want in my life don’t care if I have crooked teeth.
    I really really appreciated that response, and I am growing to appreciate my very crooked smile. Thank you!!

  • die_mad December 18th, 2013 6:56 PM

    for eyeliner, i like to use an angled brush and wet it, and then dip it in regular eye shadow and paint it on! its like using watercolors.

  • hallecat December 18th, 2013 7:45 PM

    http://m.asos.com/mt/us.asos.com/Cheap-Monday-Cape-Sleeve-Dress/10ts33/?iid=3138571&SearchQuery=cheap+Monday&Rf-700=1000&sh=0&pge=3&pgesize=50&sort=-1&clr=Silver&r=1&mk=na&mporgp=Lw..

    I just got this today. It’s shimmery in person and at a decent price. I thin not would be perfect for a winter formal.

  • suriKatka December 19th, 2013 12:25 PM

    Hey, Olivia, if you have no other problems with your teeth, trust me, you are a lucky person. I happened to break my front tooth when I was ten. My teeth weren’t totally perfect before, set too far apart for that Hollywood smile, but since then, it has really sucked. Fake teeth never look the same as the real thing, they tend to be a rather short-term solution, and what’s the worst, the treatment bloody hurts. It all used to make me quite angsty and self-conscious, and once I complained about it to my new dentist. She looked at me and said: “Girl, you are young, apart from this thing, you don’t have any troubles with your teeth, you are healthy, all organs in place and order – seriously, you don’t have any problem at all, so be grateful for that.” And that kind of helped.

  • honorarygilmoregal December 19th, 2013 5:47 PM

    Now I feel better about my imperfect teeth as well :)

    http://perkstobeinginfinite.tumblr.com

  • mangointhesky December 20th, 2013 2:23 PM

    This is BEYOND THE BEST, and I especially love the picture of that dress (I’m a kind of visual person), but the rest is also really good!

    http://thebluepapaya.blogspot.com

  • FlaG December 21st, 2013 6:38 AM

    So today I learned the name for those bumps on my teeth! Mamelons! Go figure!

    But seriously, I’m 25 and those mamelons are still there for the most part. I was curious why I have them and others don’t, but I always pegged it down to me just being different. Don’t let it get you down, Olivia :)

  • blueolivia December 24th, 2013 12:10 AM

    thank you so much for answering my teeth question! i’ve read your answer at least fifteen times already. i definitely agree with some of you guys too, i always feel like i’m just waiting until i get braces someday, which is totally silly! i just need to work on feeling comfortable with the way i look, a big challenge, but one i’m up to! thank you so so so so so much ✿

  • e1znekcaM January 3rd, 2014 12:08 PM

    Regarding the subject of teeth–I feel you! My teeth are all sorts of screwed up. But what those of us with “weird teeth” need to realize is we’re totally babe-ly. There’s nothing wrong with teeth that aren’t perfectly straight pearly whites, so long as you are taking care of yourself. Our teeth just make us more unique. And anyone who discriminates against someone without perfect teeth isn’t worth the time anyway. If you want to pay the money to get braces, that’s up to you. But don’t do it just because people make you feel crappy. It’s not worth it, then. The only person who should be deciding if you get braces is yourself. Only you.

    Here’s a post I made on Tumblr about my teeth (I’m thinking of making a zine, too!) : http://mentalmyst1cs.tumblr.com/post/68113133873

  • January 8th, 2014 2:17 PM

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

  • zoesunicorn January 11th, 2014 12:39 AM

    WOW that video tutorial doe!

  • UnconventionalPsyche February 8th, 2014 1:31 PM

    Oh. My. God.
    Eyeliner genius!!

  • Lauren Rosa February 18th, 2014 11:25 PM

    That final comment about the cat was hilarious! you girls know how to brighten a mood! :)