Good Advice or Bad Advice?

Discussion in 'Dental Archive' started by Joel M. Eichen, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Halfway Over the Hill: Fashion sense

    By Jena Ball

    Today my dentist informed me that two molars -- one on each side of my
    upper jaw -- would have to come out.

    By way of consolation, he assured me that since they are both in the
    very back of my mouth I wouldn't really miss them.

    "Besides," he added, "It used to be common practice for women to have
    their upper molars removed."

    "Whatever for?" I asked, cringing at the idea of having perfectly
    healthy teeth pulled.

    "To give them that sunken cheek look that was so popular back in the
    '70s and '80s," he replied.

    I should have known. History is full of gruesome tales of what women
    would do to satisfy the fashion mavens of their day.

    There was foot binding to produce tiny, unusable feet, corseting to
    define waists that pushed vital organs out of place, and arsenic
    consumption to produce pale, translucent complexions.

    More recently we've been known to prance around on stiletto heels
    (making broken ankles, bunions, and foreshortened tendons inevitable)
    encase our legs in sheaths of nylons that encourage bacteria and yeast
    to flourish in unmentionable places, and diet ourselves to
    distraction, much to the delight of the weight loss and fitness

    Now I hear that women are having their feet surgically altered so
    they'll fit more comfortably into pointed-toed shoes, having ribs
    removed so their waists will appear smaller, and injecting their faces
    with Clostridium botulinum bacteria --the bacteria that causes
    botulism -- to smooth out wrinkles.

    Personally, I find this need to conform to an ever-changing standard
    of beauty puzzling, particularly in a country where individuality is
    touted as the single most important quality a person can have. These
    days I half expect people to introduce themselves as individuals
    rather than doctors, office managers, or postal clerks.

    Can't you hear it now? "Hi. My name's Cindy and I'm an individual with

    So why in the world do all these individual women want to have the
    same unremarkably smooth skin, the same rail thin figures, and
    predictably pricey wardrobes? Don't we realize that the instant we get
    ourselves trimmed down, uplifted, and made over the standard will
    change and we'll have to start all over again?

    Never mind, don't answer that. Instead, do what I do when asked why I
    don't dye my hair, tweeze my eyebrows, or wear more fashionable shoes.
    Tell the questioner that you've just returned from three years in the
    Australian Outback where you were forced to live on insects and roots
    vegetables, and your only companion was a tick-infested dog. Explain
    that due to poor sanitation and dirty water you spent a great deal of
    your time coping with intestinal disorders, and are still plagued by a
    variety of symptoms that western medicine has yet to find a cure for.

    About the time they start backing away and talking about a pressing
    engagement, lay your hand confidingly on their arm, lean close, and
    ask for the name of a good infectious disease specialist. Then smile,
    excuse yourself, and run to the nearest john to get a good look in the
    mirror at the new laugh lines you've just created.

    -- Jena Ball is a writing teacher and free-lancer based in Arcadia.
    You can reach her by e-mail at or write to
    her in care of the features department, San Gabriel Valley Newspapers,
    1210 N. Azusa Canyon Road, West Covina, CA 91790.

    Joel M. Eichen, Mar 2, 2005
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