Reclaiming the Space – Ch. 2 – Shazelle and the Fountain of Youth

“I think my smile is just awesome with it [a gap], like a bit impish and also innocent in a way because it gives off this child appearance. But I’ve also found that persons really like my smile and it makes me easily approachable.” Shazelle points out thoughtfully.

Though well into her twenties, Shazelle has managed to maintain what many of us desire more, the older we get: a fresh image of juvenescence. She is no Dorian Gray however, she is as beautiful inside as she is outside with bright eyes, a warm laugh and of course a lovely smile with a gap. She has received all the effervescent responses associated with youth including the appearance of a cute little “bunny rabbit”, childish, mischievous and playful. She has even been told she is like a little mouse which coincides with a nickname I remember calling her, Micey.  

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If you ask her if her confidence was always this solid she would probably tell you no. It took her a while to realise that her gap added to the beauty of her appearance. Shazelle remembers having the spaces in her teeth mentioned before and being questioned about why she never closed her gap or considered braces. She reflects that when she was younger there were occasions when she felt very self conscious about the spaces in her teeth. She thinks that two factors delivered her from dwelling too much on wanting them closed at the time. She was terrified of visiting the dentist and her parents could not afford the costs which accompanied maintaining dental care.

While she has come to embrace her teeth she has often been aware of how her teeth may cause her to appear in photographs. While adding the disclaimer that she is not a fashion model, the young Vincentian woman is ever cognizant of the ideal angles as we all can be but she attributes this to her periodic meticulousness. Although several of her photos feature her lips pressed together, she admits that when she is in a casual, unbothered or relaxed mood she shows her smile. Her grin also appears in photos where she is caught unexpectedly! Although she has wanted to rid the Earth of some of these photos there are quite a few that she loves and appreciates.

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She confesses that her gaps cause her to stand out in a crowd which she sees as a great asset. Having received compliments about her youthful looks she exudes: “who doesn’t want to look younger??” At times that youthful perception is mistaken for innocence and naivite. But she shrugs this off with cheeky statements like “I guess I have yet to know anything about the world.” One piece of knowledge she could have gone without having is that there are derogatory perceptions associated with having a gap. She recalls once being told about a correlation between a girl’s gaps and her “secret garden”.

Other comments include attempts at chiding her by calling her a nerd. Proficient at letting things roll off her back, Shaz admits that she did not take this as an insult. In fact she states that:

“I have heard that girls with gaps are supposed to be smart, confident and lucky. I’m not sure about the lucky part but I do believe that we are smart 🙂 I haven’t met anyone with a gap tooth that has been the exception. As for being confident, I think we probably exude confidence because we had to learn to be okay with our gap, love ourselves and ignore the naysayers.” 

The programmer/IT technician also proudly expresses that: “it just seems like we’re very talented and highly goal oriented. There is an air of “bossery” about us when we set our minds to something we get it done.

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As a lover of martial arts and her glorious head of natural hair, Shazelle is not intimidated by being different. She believes that no societal beauty standard should dominate our own personal make ups. No beauty standard is worth one’s health. Although she would advocate changes to one’s teeth if one needs it medically she thinks well enough should be left alone. She thoughtfully indicates that at times if you change something and there was nothing wrong with it you end up with more problems than before. Still, it is necessary to look after your teeth. She says that:

“I do recommend getting your teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year,. It sucks, at first, but after you wouldn’t be able to stop running your tongue along your teeth. Also drink lots of water and, if you must drink carbonated drinks, use a straw. Also coffee and some teas can stain your teeth, so maybe brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after.”

There are added bonuses of having a gap. She excitedly notes that:

“I find it really nice that the gaps in my teeth makes it easier for me to brush them. The ones at the back are so closely packed that it is a pain because food easily gets stuck between them.”

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In terms of beauty standards, Shazelle says that factors such as skin colour, big butts and curves come to mind in relation to the Caribbean. But “we shouldn’t look to society to tell us how we should look but should rather embrace everything that is us.”

She adds that “I think about how susceptible persons are to society’s beauty standards and how they try to mold themselves into something that society should deem as acceptable and beautiful. Not a lot of people seem to realize that there is just something about “flaws” that make a person beautiful and real and magical in their own way. If only people would just take a long hard look in the mirror and see themselves, they would realize how beautiful they are. I recommend people do that. Not to be vain or anything but to just connect with yourself. You might be surprised by what you find.”

And that my friends, I think, is a sound bit of advice 🙂

Join us next week for a special podcast with another intelligent and radiant young woman! See you then!

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