If I Only Had a Chin
I first realized I didn’t have a chin about 13 years ago when I was at a consultation with my orthodontist. I was getting fitted for braces, and he was talking to my mother about potential options. (Like all orthodontists this man was an insane person, he and his staff seemed to hate all their patients, and he was constantly lecturing brace-faced teenagers that they weren’t brushing enough.)
He rattled off a couple things–pretty sure the topic of “head gear” came up to which I vehemently said “no”–until he told my mother that I would probably need rubber bands. Because braces weren’t attractive enough already. The reason I would need rubber bands was because my chin was slightly receded. Since my mom and I had no clue what he was talking about, he pointed it out: “See? See how her chin is kind of pushed in? The rubber bands will hopefully help to bring the jaw out. We’ve had a lot of success in other similar patients.”
Oh. Well. I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with my chin up until that point. I was too busy worrying about my 30 extra pounds, and the reality that I might be flat-chested, to pick apart my bone structure. (Spoiler alert: I ended up being flat-chested.) I was pretty sure underneath my extra layer of flub existed a pretty girl, so this was a tough pill to swallow. I had spent years being teased for having a double chin, and now I’m being faced with the harsh reality that I actually don’t even have one? Was I really “the girl with no chin?” I hate that girl!
Fourteen years have passed since that first trip to the ortho, yet from that day forward I have never not worried–either in the forefront of my mind or somewhere small in the back of it–about my lack of a chin. Coupled with my ever-growing nose (seriously, you can stop growing now), I worry that with a slight turn of my neck to the right or left, I go from “cute girl with nice teeth” to “volleyball head with a beak attached.” And now I’m worried that since I’m pointing it out to all of you, you’re going to be like, “Ohhh YEA! I knew there was always something off about her face, but now I finally get it.”
Of course, as time passes our bodies change, and as I’ve gotten older and thinner my chin, or lack thereof, has become a bit more defined. In more recent years I began to worry about it less, think about it less. My boyfriend would tease me, “where’d ya chin go!” as a joke, because it became more of this funny anecdote rather than something I was actually concerned about. I had a chin. Small, but it was there.
Or so I thought.
Being part of a family raised with a video camera, we were constantly recording ourselves or being recorded growing up. I’ve been watching myself on film since I was like, five years old. So I’m definitely used to having moments of “woah, that’s how I look in real life?” for better or worse. But recently, it was for worse. Upon editing video footage of myself for Buntology’s “Juice and Smoothie Challenge,” I was jolted back to reality when I saw footage of myself making smoothies. Holy moly, where’d my chin go? I had been having a sinking suspicion (suspicion, unfounded paranoia… what’s the difference really?) that it’s started to recede more, and because I also have TMJ sometimes I just picture my whole jaw coming unhinged, and having to get it wired shut, which is one of my worst fears. And there I was, on camera, totally chinless. Why hadn’t anybody told me!? How could anybody ever love me!?!?
Enough was enough. I spouted an email off to my boyfriend, Dan: “Why would you want to be with somebody so ugly!? I have no chin! No chin at all! I hate myself. I’m getting an implant,” and spent the next hour looking up plastic surgeons within a 20-mile radius. They couldn’t be too far away because, ya’ know, I have no car so I’d have to Uber there, and it didn’t seem like Dan was going to support my decision, let alone drive me. Apparently he “thinks I’m pretty” and “loves me the way I am” and “has no clue what I’m even talking about.” Whatever.
I found a nearby doctor and looked through the before and after pics. Big mistake. These people’s before pictures were totally fine! I was excepting some fucked up, lips-attached-to-their-neck type shit. These people looked like me! Some, even better! If they needed a chin implant then I surely needed one. Devastated, I sent an email to the address provided on the site asking for information about pricing and a consultation.
After that I began emailing my close friends and family: “So, I’m sure you’ve noticed this by now and are just too nice to say anything. But, the time has come, and I’m getting a chin implant.” I expected a slew of supportive, gentle emails: “Yes Angela, we didn’t want to say anything until you said it first, but your face is caving in. Don’t worry, we still love you, but we agree that it’s time you go under the knife.” Instead, the responses were more like: “Huh? Wait, seriously? What do you mean you don’t have a chin? I’ve never noticed you not having a chin,” and “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, but I mean, sure yea do what makes you happy.” Or the best response from my dear friend Colin: “OMG you totally don’t need a chin implant, but tell me how the consultation goes because I have wanted a chin implant forever. My profile looks like the opening of a flute!”
This story isn’t going to have this happy ending like, “then my chin grew three sizes” or, “then I got an implant and I look amazing.” My itty-bitty-chinny is something that will probably always bother me, and with each good or bad picture or video I see of myself, it will either bother me more or less. My boyfriend seems to think I’m hot, my friends are either really good liars or they really have no idea what I’m talking about (I mean, c’mon guys), and the reality is right now I’m too lazy/poor to go through with an implant. But what Colin said got me thinking: I had never looked at his profile and thought it looked like the opening of a flute. I just look at him and see my friend. Which is what happens to every other human who has something about their body that they hate, yet nobody else around them notices.
Nobody is viewing me through the same critical eyes I view myself. When somebody I know sees me walking down the street, they aren’t thinking, “Her chin looks extra small today!” They’re thinking, “Oh, there’s my friend!” Your personality traits, shared experiences, laughter, conversations–those are what define how others see you, both on the inside and the outside. They aren’t picking apart your features, they’re seeing you as an entire package, and that’s what makes you beautiful or ugly. Not whether you look a little chinless from the side.
So, I guess that’s the lesson. Don’t be an asshole and nobody will care that you don’t have a chin. Also, never take advice from an orthodontist who has fucked up teeth.