I don’t know when I first became self-conscious about the way I look when I laugh. It probably have happened sometime during the years when I first needed braces and then continued through the years that I had them. By then I was just so used to not liking the way I looked (or more accurately, the way I thought I looked) in general that my smile was just one bullet point on a long list of things I didn’t like about myself.
It wasn’t until I was the one taking the pictures that I saw the same eyes reflected back at me every time my dad breaks into a grin – the same crinkles in the same places, often amused by the same things. So even as those lines on my face have deepened my thoughts about them have softened.
The same for my mouth itself. When amused I do this thing where I open my mouth & crinkle my nose up, a bit like a bunny. My mom and my aunt, both having very similarly shaped mouths, do the exact same thing. Looking through family photo albums it is clear to see all three of us got this from their dad, my grandfather & one of the funniest people I ever met.
For a handful of years I consciously tried not to smile. That’s just so… so sad. I’m so glad I got over it.
Because the very same people who gave me this smile would be really upset if they thought for a second I was keeping it to myself.