This week, I wanted to address the braces thing to you guys because for me, it’s an important story of self-confidence.
Annoyingly, I’ve actually already gone through the pain of braces once before - all throughout secondary school - I never felt ashamed of them thanks to my mums encouragement reminding me of the end goal, so I was genuinely excited to have them.
However since having them removed as a teenager I’ve experienced two major incidents which involved changing my face in a way that was completely unrecognisable to it’s previous state. The first was a freak accident when I was 17 and the second, a routine wisdom tooth extraction gone wrong.
When I was in the hospital with my first accident, a freak accident which resulted in multiple facial fractures, a broken nose and a missing tooth, I wasn’t sure my face was going to return to it’s normal functionalities. Due to the swelling the entire left side of my face was temporarily paralysed - concluding to some very wonky smiles for my 17th birthday photos!
To top if off, I also didn’t have a front tooth for 4 months! I had to wear a nose cast after a scheduled operation to repair it on return to the UK - all whilst heading into college everyday of my A Levels pretending I didn't care that everyone was talking about,
“that girl who had the accident”.
The second incident was a ‘routine’ wisdom tooth extraction which, after a really bad reaction, has left me with a permanent numbness on one side of my face and nerve damage down the shoulder. The swelling and complications lasted months longer then they should have, and I remember leaving the house at the time was a real knock to my confidence, as people’s lingering stares and aversion of eye contact would make me frustrated.
Now, what did both of these experiences teach me & why am I sharing them with you?
The face is the first thing we see and connect with in conversation so people felt awkward about asking what had happened to me whilst I was in the midst of healing. They shouldn’t have, but on both occasions people did stare a little longer than they should've due to the 'abnormalities' on my face and it takes a lot of self belief to leave the house and claim it doesn't bother you. The staring is noticeable.
Unfortunately, their nervous awareness of my ‘difference’, was really a heightening of their own insecurities and misunderstandings.
Of course it sounds like a huge cliché, but who people truly are is their interior souls and not the exterior they bear.
Thankfully, as an insecure 17 year old at the time, these experiences helped me to shape my understanding that who I am is more valuable and unique than the depth of the dermis of my skin and the experience helped me to be more empathetic to other people who have been injured; both temporarily or permanently.
I grew more confident with the Antonia that beams through conversations despite apparent, temporary external setbacks. My friends and family didn’t recognise me from the outside, so it was a mental decision. Menial things like leaving the house without make up seemed to be very much put in perspective.
It's helped me to encourage my peers who genuinely struggle with body confidence due to the expectation they put on themselves thanks to external pressures. I’ve had countless friends shrug off believing in themselves for potential opportunities, sometimes due to their lack of confidence in their appearance.
(Which is totally and utterly ridiculous)
For me, I suppose the braces could be seen as restorative.
Of course they’re going to make my face look a bit different and will potentially challenge the idea of what we consider to be shown on a ‘beauty blog’. But I’ll be wearing them with pride.
I’ll be wearing my braces to encourage unique expression and a bit of courage for those who are not quite there yet… whatever your little hang up might be.
LUSH Cosmetics Light Yellow
Green People Volumising Mascara
NARS Eye Liner (in Istanbul)
Hurraw! Lip Balm (in Sun Protection SPF 15)
Purple Kimono - Flock Vintage, Brighton
Necklace - Antique Venetian Beads, Blackout Brighton
Cashmere Jumper: Second Hand Charity Shop