‘National Smile Month’ 18May-18June primarily has an oral hygiene focus thus ‘improving the quality of your smile’. It has reminded me of a story I’d like to share ~ A Tale From Circa Early 90s ~
PREFACE: “ ‘Thou shalt not’ might reach the head, but it takes ‘ONCE UPON A TIME’ TO REACH THE HEART.” Said Phillip Pullman
INTRODUCTION: Few Things Are More Powerful Than A SMILE; EVERYone smiles in the same language!
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a young girl who was not a naturally ‘smiley’ person. Whatever the reason (maybe the natural brow furrow she inherited from her father) she was naturally more ‘serious looking’ person. This bothered her terribly. Maybe she read ‘Man Watching’ too young and over analysed everything about body communication. She pretty much felt uncomfortable in her own skin and had a real hang up about lots of her physical features including her mouth, the downward turn that she perceived, the thin lip look. It didn’t matter if she was feeling good and content she felt her ‘default mouth’ didn’t reveal any of that. She was definitely one that was highly influenced by media/pop culture at the time and the pressure to ‘look a certain way’ and she despaired her looks weren’t up to the way she felt or what the media ‘told her’ she should look like. She felt her ‘mouth shape’ was mis-communicating ‘her’ to everyone. She thought cosmetic surgery might be the answer. She thought changing the shape of her upper lip to be fuller, would lift it and look ‘less’ serious and that it might improve her life (like so many before and after her she was ‘living in her head’ and focussed on the superficial). So she got a personal loan (one of the many in her mis-spent youth) and she had an operation on her upper lip. The op took place in the UK; the surgeon cut all around her upper lip line and pulled the lip up to give it a lift and then stitched it all back together. Simple enough. WHAT THEY DIDN’T TELL/WARN HER in advance about that might seem so obvious to many, but not to one with limited life experience, was that such a procedure creates scar tissue which is ‘tight’ and immediately after the procedure SHE COULDN’T SMILE! She was traumatised by this; for months she couldn’t comfortably smile; she worked and worked on it and the tissue started to stretch and then she could smile but it looked grotesque! because the ‘scar lip line’ was drawn and taut, and when she ‘smiled’ the area above her lip went flat, tight, it just looked weird. She used her hand to shield her mouth area a lot over the next few years.
WHAT SHE LEARNED from this experience:
- she was more smiley than she thought she was because she felt the despair of NOT being able to smile at some point every day
- she ended up worse off physically (passage of time healed the effect of the surgery, nature not only healed the scar but got her back to where she was before the op, it is like she never had the op)
- she was definitely worse off financially
- surgery is no solution to lack of self esteem
- it is ok not to have a ‘Julia Roberts standard of smile’
- more than her were affected by her action; close family disturbed by this clear manifestation of some sort of deeper problem
- feeling good is a personal thing. So is smiling. Just because some people smile ‘more’ than you does not mean you are not a smiley person, they are just ‘smile-ier’ and that is ok, it is not a competition
She had other physical appearance hang-ups and behaviours that accompanied her youth. That total lack of self esteem was all ‘part’ of her motivation to wake up! It was all ‘part’ of what eventually manifested as insomnia for 4 years; all part of what drove her in desperation to her first Bikram Yoga class. ONLY when she took up Bikram Yoga did all of that go out the window. She stopped mistaking that voice in her head for who she really was. She stopped worrying about people misunderstanding her ‘default’ face and with her newfound practice she let go of all the other hang-ups (some surprisingly quickly). How she looked was no longer an important part of who she perceived herself to be.
BY enabled her to shed the unnecessary; it is definitely a spiritual practice. She started to understand ‘I AM’ in a whole new and lighter way. Through Self observation, ‘Self worth’ was no longer bound up in looks. IT STARTED WITH THE 90 MINUTE HOLIDAY FROM THE VOICE IN HER HEAD AND THEN IT EXPANDED INTO THE REST OF HER LIFE. She was able to ‘feel’ rather than ‘think’ everything. THE END.
EPILOGUE: ‘I AM not diminished because I no longer live in her head’. Sometimes I catch sight of myself in the mirror and laugh; what a state! have I gone too much ‘the other way’ rockin’ the ‘down’ look? I Love smiling. I don’t do it all the time but I do it A LOT! Bikram Yoga ~ I AM STILL WEARING THE SMILE YOU GAVE ME.