Finding Beauty

Eloise got her braces off yesterday. These were her phase one braces that stayed on for six months. She now has a retainer and then will get her phase two braces around age 13 or so when she has all of her adult teeth.

Phase one basically expanded her mouth so her teeth would fit and also straightened out her existing adult teeth top and bottom. Mainly the teeth in the front – that you can see.


Eloise is home from school today because she’s been crying almost non-stop from the pain of the retainer and it’s given her a headache.


And she’s screamed more than once at me “Why do I have to do this?! I don’t want straight teeth! Crooked teeth are just fine!! What’s the big deal about straight teeth? It’s not worth the pain!!!”


So how do you answer that? Are there studies that show that people with straight teeth get better jobs? Make more money? Get into better colleges? Excel in ballet? Do people with straight teeth date more? Have more friends? Do they marry better? Do they get teased less?


Are people with straight teeth happier?

When you get botox are you happier? Is your spouse happier? Do you get noticed more? Did you get that job?


We all want to feel more confident sure. But where does it all end. Am I comparing apples to apples here?


Braces have always been acceptable. Kids have been getting their teeth straightened for decades. But how do you tell your child they look just fine they way they are when you’re spending $8000 for straight teeth and watching your child in agony? Are we sending a mixed message. Truthfully I’ve never thought about it until Eloise through her tears asked me last night why her crooked teeth weren’t just good enough. And explaining the medical reasons still fly over the head of a 10 year old who feels so invincible. And in pain.


And Botox for us moms – well I’m 44 and have never considered it but have many friends in their 30s who already have and I tell them “If you think you need botox now – well 44 is going to scare the shit out of you!”Β  And maybe I’m weird because I kind of like my wrinkles and lines and the permanent number 11 on my forehead. I’m 44 – not 24 and no amount of ‘work’ will take me back.Β  I look at pictures of Diane Von Furstenburg and see beauty. Natural, natural beauty. I look at Cher and don’t. I look at Courtney Cox – who is my age and is now starting to look like Cher and it’s honestly not pretty.


Maybe there’s no such thing as aging gracefully, but that doesn’t mean I have to apologize for doing it at all.


And I know in a few days Eloise’s pain will subside and she’ll show her smile again and someday she’ll be grateful for straight teeth. I know I am grateful for mine.

I get that self-confidence has a lot to do with happiness – and I can only hope that her straight teeth will be a part of that as she becomes a teen and an adult.


Just like I hope her gorgeously earned wrinkles will give her confidence in her 40s.

About Tracy

My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, world traveler, and marathon runner. I would love for you to contact me at

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  1. says

    I remember that pain. And I am glad I have straight teeth. I think it was worth it, for me anyway.

    But Botox, HELL no! I think Courtney Cox looks horrible! And I’m with you, those lines mean something and I’m keepin’ them!!
    Elaine recently posted..My Dream of Three

  2. says

    My Bella is about to get her braces ( for 6 mos) she is 7 ( almost 8). She is excited. I had them. I had them. I did everything I could to get out of them as soon as possible but I am thankful for my straight teeth. My self-confidence would be nil if I had crooked buck teeth because I would always be hiding my smile and quite frankly, I have enough body issues, I don;t need to add to it a messed up smile.
    You are doing the right thing. She will be glad for her straight smile. I say if someone can be completely happy and comfortable with their flaws…go for it but most of us are not. Stay strong mama. You are doing great.
    Debi (@TruthfulMommy) recently posted..Steubenville Ohio Where Football Trumps Respect for Women and the Fear of God

  3. says

    Braces were such a horrible experience but they were worth it. Straight teeth give me a radiant smile and the confidence that goes with it. Confidence is an extremely important trait for young women to have.

    Also, straight teeth are easier to care for, and from a healthcare POV, she is less likely to have difficulties with her teeth later in life if they’re all lined up nicely.

  4. says

    I am really glad I had braces. Granted, I was an adult when I got them but I had been self-conscious about my teeth throughout my childhood. They were painful at times, but so worth it in the end. (And I am 40 and completely agree with you on the botox! No way, no how.)
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..Sing

  5. says

    Wow, this is very thought provoking. I also went through braces….4 years of them. Maybe it’s one of those things parents do so their children wont’ be teased? Maybe crooked teeth are so unacceptable that it goes without saying that i’ll happen? I don’t know the answer either. I’d like to think at 44 I will also enjoy my wrinkles too πŸ™‚

  6. says

    As a person who couldn’t afford to have braces until I was out of college and well into my first career, I longed for straight teeth because I was teased mercilessly…it was a tough road. I’m glad she never was…but, there is truth in that those little things matter for confidence for some of us. Will is matter for her? Perhaps not, but you’re only doing what you feel is potentially preventing some challenges that might yield unnecessary insecurities. When it comes to things like this, I just try to explain it in a way that isn’t completely attached to looks, but perhaps health as well. Tell her that she’ll not only look lovely, but she’ll have an easier time keeping up with her oral health because flossing is simpler and food doesn’t get stuck in such a way as it does when you have a crowded mouth. Attach it to overall well being, not just superficial reasons.

    As for botox….moderation? Just kidding…I hate needles…couldn’t do it even if I wanted to. Although those big creases in my forehead…oy! I’m only 33 and they’re already SO visible. πŸ™‚ But they’re lifelines – they show that I’ve LIVED. So I’m good.

    And, I’ve officially written a book. Thought provoking post!
    Nicole @MTDLBlog recently posted..Party Essentials: DIY Photo Booth!

  7. says

    I think that you’ve done a great job parenting because she IS confident. She’s not stressed about what her teeth like. I know plenty of girls our daughters’ ages that talk with their hands in front of their mouths because they are not confident. Eloise knows already that itis who she is that makes her a great person and not her teeth. She’s going through a tough time right now but the best way to explain is to maybe say that it’s not for the beauty of having straight teeth but how her jaw and teeth work better when aligned properly and she will have less trouble as shegets older because she is fixing it now. You’ve got this! She’s in great hands! xo

  8. says

    What a wonderful post. I think women of all ages grapple with beauty and what it means. Truly I believe beauty is cultivated on the inside. Outer beauty is short lived, we grow older, the lines and wrinkles, grey hairs will come. Fight it if you want (botox, boob jobs, tummy tucks) but in the end happiness is about being confident in WHO you are as a person. As for teeth, some of the prettiest people I know have crooked teeth. I love this about them. I loved their smiles and laughter. They are just beautiful on the inside and it shows on the outside. From a health stand point, braces can be beneficial for a healthier mouth. The same can be said for weight. I struggle with my 10yr old weight gain and have to be very sensitive in how I approach her. I try to guide her towards healthier food choices and I get active with her (ride bikes, walks with the dog, etc.) It’s so hard being a Mom. Wish we got a magic wand when our babies were born!
    Anne recently posted..Colorful chaos!

  9. says

    Just let Eloise know that usually braces are never suggested unless someone’s jaw is too small. Very few people who have enough room for all their teeth and have spaces get braces. Later in life if she didn’t get them she would all sorts of bite issues that can lead to poor digestion, headaches and sore jaws. I have a friend who needed braces as an adult because of all the problems. Our parent’s parents didn’t have the option so they just put up with all of the problems. We thankfully are luckier and a bonus, a nice smile to boot. She will be so happy she had braces when she is older. My teeth have started to move again, and I can’t chew gum anymore because it hurts. I’ve enquired and it would be another eight months of braces… again. We’ll see. I just might do it. And yes Eloise retainers are definitely a pain in the butt!
    Dana @ Bungalow’56 recently posted..When I Knew He Was The One

  10. says

    When as an adult I questioned my mother as to why I needed to suffer through braces for minorly crooked teeth, she explained that it wasn’t for the ascetics of straight teeth. My parents decided with the dentist to give me braces for my tooth and mouth health down the line. I guess my teeth weren’t too visibly bad, but they worried about problems with my jaw if they hadn’t been straightened. I dunno… I never saw it that way!
    Caitlin MidAtlantic recently posted..My Beef with Dora

  11. says

    My dentist recommended them for me as a child but my parents thought they were too costly. I have always been self conscious about my teeth, I am one of those who rarely smiles with my teeth showing. I have had horrible dental experiences because of my crooked teeth, multiple cavities, two root canals, four crowns, and TMJ with the accompanying massive headaches. Most of those problems would not have occurred, if my teeth and bite had been corrected when I was young.

    My dentist is still trying to talk me into them, but at fifty I am through the worst of the dental hell and have resigned myself to my crooked teeth.

    But my son and I are on his way to HIS ortho appt. today!

    Let sweet Eloise know it isn’t just about looking ‘better’, but about her over-all well being.

    maybaby recently posted..cookies!

  12. says

    I think that one day she’ll be glad for it, but I see her point. And I see yours as well. I watched a commercial with Courtney Cox last night and thought about how terrible she’s starting to look.

    Still, Eloise was speaking from pain, poor thing, and it’ll pass. She’ll be glad one day. But it’s definitely something to think about – the conclusions we draw from crooked teeth, excess weight, wrinkles…
    Mrs. Jen B recently posted..Balance Thrown Overboard

  13. says

    Eek. I don’t even know what to say, how do we explain wanting kids to have straight teeth but thinking they are beautiful just the way they are? And then with the pain? Yikes. I don’t regret my braces at all, and I’m sure my girls will have them too. But when they’re in pain and asking me that same question, I know I’ll be stumped.
    christine recently posted..Battle of the Hippie vs. Conventional

  14. says

    This is a tough one. I had braces. My husband didn’t. We both have jobs and a good life. He has fantastically crooked teeth and doesn’t think about it. I appreciate that I had braces – and not just for the aesthetics, but what they did to help my bite and TMJ disorder, too. Our daughter has an adorable – and HUGE – gap between her front teeth. Sometimes she gets teased about it (kids ask if she’s lost a tooth, it’s such a wide gap – but it’s great fun for a party trick – a Pez candy fits perfectly). Anyway, I think whatever your family decides to do will be 100% the right decision.

  15. says

    Why are these kids allowed to question us with things that we don’t have the answer to? That’s a little unfair, right? πŸ˜‰

    A straight smile will give her confidence that she will carry with her into her teens, 20’s, 30’s, and beyond. I remember that pain that she feels now and it’s awful. But it passes. And she will be so thankful you’re doing this for her.
    Kimberly recently posted..Focusing On Me

  16. Teresa says

    I am one of the more fortunate people who never needed braces, BUT I do have fillings in almost every tooth. My younger sister had extremely crooked teeth and HATED them. She paid for her own braces in her 20’s and is happy and more confident than ever before. I hope i never have to deal with that over here, but if my kids ask for braces, I will do what I can to afford them!

  17. AnnJ says

    Our children had braces as teens so they won’t have joint and tooth problems in the future. Their teeth didn’t come together correctly and could have caused bite problems and tooth erosion that would be uncomfortable and difficult to fix in the future. Hopefully she won’t be sore too long. It’s a lot to understand when you’re so young. She is beautiful whether she has crooked teeth or not!

  18. says

    Oh, braces were soooo worth it. I also had them in two phases. In fifth grades I got the ones that, like your daughter’s, just resolved the front, top teeth. At the time that I got those, I wasn’t at all aware of what it meant to have straight teeth or why it would matter. Up to that point, I don’t remember giving my teeth a second thought. I guess kids that young just don’t make a big deal of it.
    But then everything was different in middle school. Kids are mean and judgey in middle school. And then high school…. Oy.
    Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my life as an adult with those teeth I had. I know this is all first world problem-ish and all of that. But wow. I’m embarrassed as it is of skin blemishes and bad hair days and clothes that make me look even fatter than I am. To add horribly misshaped teeth to the equation? No thank you.
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  19. says

    I totally and completely remember the pain of those damn retainers. I was in tears too. It’s funny because looking back at my own experience, in the end, it didn’t matter so much. I had braces. TWICE. And my teeth are still crooked. My mom wanted me to have perfectly straight teeth but I was so done going through all that pain and the orthodontics and told her I didn’t care. There was definitely a part of me (still is?) that is self-conscious of my crooked teeth but I also think it gives me character and it’s a piece of my Dad that I carry with me (he passed when I was young). Just like my wrinkles – I’ll take them as lifelines. Can’t stand needles anyways.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Help me decide!

  20. says

    My husband tells me that my two front teeth, which stick out just a little, makes me ME. I did see a dentist when I was 11, or 12, who said, well, you need to get some teeth at the back pulled out to make way if you want to push these ‘buck teeth’ back.

    I said no thank you and yes, sometimes I see myself in pictures smiling (like my avatar) and I see those ‘buck teeth’, and yes, wish they weren’t so sticky-outy. But I kinda like them too.

    So I don’t know. My sister had braces and a retainer because her teeth were growing crooked all over the place, to the point where if she didn’t get them fixed, she would have trouble eating/ talking (or something). So there’s that.

    Beauty is from the inside. But I guess if you let something outside bother you long enough, it can make the inside sad and ugly too.

    So, yet again, I don’t know. I just know I’m rambling and leaving you an essay.

    Just tell Eloise she’s beautiful for me, thank you. Love you and your wrinkles. xo
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  21. says

    I think that she looks wonderful and with a bit of Tylenol and time the pain will go away and be nothing but a mere memory. One day she’ll be happy that she has perfectly straight teeth and that she did before high school!

    My middle daughter had braces for the exact same reason and she’s 13 right now and we’re still waiting for her teeth to fall out & come in before we know if we have to do phase 2.

    My youngest daughter (10) has to do the exact same thing as her sister but I’m waiting just a bit till she loses a couple of those loose teeth. It also gives me time to scrap together money for hers.
    Jackie recently posted..My week with a Kia Optima

  22. says

    darling Eloise– she’s adorable.

    So many people have whispered the name of their botox doctor to me this year– I’m almost insulted. πŸ™‚ But I choose to grow old gracefully and to spend my money on clothes.
    Michelle L. recently posted..the temple

  23. Paula says

    In the long run, we do value trials such as braces, but there’s no doubt it’s a painful process! Watching my two go through braces, discomfort and all, emboldened me to finally do it for myself. And so here I am at 49 trying to look younger with braces instead of Botox. (What – I don’t look 17? :D) I’ll have them off within a month, and I’ve not regretted any of it. And luckily I have plenty of other ‘character’ to make up for newly straight teeth! I never had the opportunity for braces when I was young, so I have all that much more perspective on the value of it for my children. For now, hugs and ice cream should go a long way for Eloise.

  24. says

    Yikes. Kids really know how to throw you for a curve, don’t they? I mean, seriously, how do you respond to that in a way that doesn’t place societal emphasis on beauty and body image and appearance – all the things we hope to teach our kids DON’T matter in life. Especially if we don’t really believe it ourselves (guilty).

    I’m sure she just said what she said out of pain and frustration. She’ll be grateful to have straight teeth one day. I know I was. (And then I went and effed them up by breaking my two front ones in a drunken accident – but that’s another story for another day. A very expensive one.)
    Kristin @ What She Said recently posted..One of These Is Not Like the Others

  25. says

    I am a firm believer that everyone who has had braces (who also wears her retainer like she should) is ultimately happier in life. I also know plenty of people who couldn’t possibly care any less about the state of their teeth. I type this from the perspective of a 39 yr old who is STILL IN BRACES FOR THE THIRD DAMN TIME. But, this time I’ll finish and I’ll be done this year and I am glad that I did it (and equally angry that my mother didn’t make me when I was at an age in which she could have paid for it.)

    As long as you continue to tell Eloise that it’s NOT about her not being beautiful with crooked teeth. It’s about her not having dental issues down the line that could have been alleviated had she had braces when she was younger. It’s about a confidence that, I THINK, is enhanced by having straight teeth. Yes, it’s painful to get there, but the journey is worth it. Flossing is a bitch.
    Arnebya recently posted..Just One

  26. says

    I don’t know the answer to her questions, but I am going to agree with the comment about how well you’ve raised them to even ask the question. That she knows, even today, that her beauty and worth extend beyond her exterior. And it does.

    I had braces for 4 long years. It could have been shorter, but I got braces because I sucked my thumb as a child (and as an adult) and while they were on, the RIGHT thing to do, would have been to STOP SUCKING my thumb. If I had, a year or so, and my bucked teeth would have gone right back into place but being who I am I wanted both worlds. Straight teeth and the freedom to suck my thumb. So I did and it took 4 long years (my whole HS experience) to put those puppies back in place.

    I don’t know if I’d go back and do it differently. Probably not. I still suck my thumb at 43, and my teeth (THANK GOODNESS) are still straight. I got what I wanted, and the cost , to me, is over.

    To Eloise who could use a motrin right about now (I remember the pain of tightenings , rubber bands and the retainer) it isn’t so clear. But she Has YOU as a mom and that’s more than any of us had back then, in the puddle of it. Tell her it’s worth it, because is.

    Kir recently posted..Trifextra: A Prologue to Our Epilouge

  27. says

    I meant to comment on this the other day. I think it’s wonderful that you’re raising them to KNOW that’s a good question. And I hope you can frame it in a way that doesn’t shy away from her question while still cushioning it a little.

    Interestingly, Abbey thinks I should stop dying my hair blonde because she and Dylan are both getting darker, and she thinks it looks pretty. She told me, “If it’s supposed to be darker, you should see what it looks like.” I’m considering it πŸ™‚
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  28. says

    It’s a fine line sometimes, between making sure that we have the confidence of looking and feeling our best and pushing it past the point where we look like ourselves. She’s beautiful with and without braces, and like many others, I’m really glad I had mine now.
    anymommy recently posted..One-liners

  29. says

    I have one crooked tooth. It’s one of the my top two front teeth. To be honest, I have barely ever noticed it. I vaguely remember some discussion about braces when I was young, but it was decided that only one tooth wasn’t worth it.

    I am 41 and I agree about the wrinkles and such. I don’t mind them. I like my grey hairs. And I will keep my age lines. I earned them! I think people look weird when they are 50 and don’t have any lines.
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  30. says

    Reading this makes my heart ache, and I hope that the answer to your questions is “No. these things don’t make a person happier/successful etc”, because my 12 yo so needs braces – her dentist has been telling us for years, but it’s just not in our budget at this time. At all. And my heart aches for her. Because a part of me worries and knows that most of society is screaming that the answer to your questions really is “Yes…”

  31. says

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