Gap Teeth And Strong Noses: 6 Women On Hanging Up Their Hang-Ups

  • Jamie Feldman
    Fashion and Lifestyle Editor at The Huffington Post in Brooklyn, NY

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    I have a fairly prominent birthmark on the side of my left eye. Because of its location on my face and its size, I have heard it's the first thing people notice about me when I meet them.

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    It took years. Years! I have vivid memories of begging my mom to take me to the dermatologist to have it removed. Much to my dismay (and her delight), the doctor I finally met with told me that considering its proximity to my eye, it would actually be more dangerous to remove. I was in middle school when Austin Powers in Goldmember came out which, you might recall, features a pretty famous mole. Middle school sucks for everyone regardless of who you are and what you look like, but I was hard pressed to get through a day without hearing a reference to the movie at least once. That was not fun.

     
  • How does your birthmark make you feel today?

    I am so empowered and proud of my birthmark today. My grandmother had a similar one and my dad had a large birthmark on his arm. My birthmark is, in a way, my connection to them now. I work on the Internet and have been skillfully trained to avoid comments, but by putting myself out there I'm constantly vulnerable to trolls who have voiced their opinions on everything from my body to, of course, my birthmark. It's a struggle to completely ignore those people but, you know what? I totally dig having something so unique in a place on my body where everyone can see it. It's a conversation starter and, if you ask me, just looks plain cool.
  • Emily Tamkin
    Assistant Editor at New America in Washington, DC

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    I have embraced my nose, which I would describe as strong and prominent and other nice words for "big." (Or, to put it another way: I was once in a Russian-Jewish literature class and the teacher was helping me make sense of the texts, which we read in Russian. As we made our way through a passage describing a Jewish woman's face in a short story by Chekhov, the teacher stopped the class and helpfully offered, "Emily! It's your nose!")

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    Oh, gosh, no. No, I have not always embraced my nose. I've always presented myself as someone who's comfortable in her own skin, so it's a little embarrassing to admit that growing up I wanted very badly to have a pretty, pert little nose like everyone else in my town, and that it hurt me that certain family members and people in school made fun of it. But a few things changed.

    First, I was lucky enough to be raised by two people who love me, one of whom also has a big nose, and who saw me as beautiful and worthy and assured me that I would, in time, see myself that way, too.

    Second, in 2003, NYT Magazine ran a profile on Sofia Coppola for which she appeared on the cover. Sofia Coppola is a beautiful woman and comes off as so cool in the story and also, since that article's publication, she's made several intriguing movies with interesting soundtracks and has a baby with a chic French musician, and also she has a very big nose. (If anyone reading this knows someone who knows someone who knows Sofia Coppola, tell her thank you.)

    Third, in 2008, writer Nathan Englander published The Ministry of Special Cases, which includes the line "To change a face, it is murder," which is meant not as an indictment of plastic surgery but as a reminder that we get our features from our parents who got them from their parents, and that those features are reminders of who we are.

    And finally, I grew up and got older and moved out of my suburban town and went to university and travelled around and met many people, some who thought I was pretty and some who didn't, and realized that I didn't care what they thought, because I nose I'm fine.
  • How does your nose make you feel today?

    Before I say how my nose makes me feel, I would like to say that America has a certain set of beauty standards, and that those beauty standards are white (and a very particular shade of white), and that when they are not they are often culturally appropriative, and that I think those beauty standards (which I will here note are, all things considered, pretty kind to big-nosed white girls) should be fought against whenever and however possible.

    And I start with that to say that my Jewish nose now makes me very proud, because it's a reminder that I am my father's daughter and that he is his mother's son, and so on and so forth. It's a heritage that I'm lucky enough to get to carry around on my face.

    But the other thing that my nose makes me feel today is comfortable. It's part of what I look like, yes, but it's also part of who I am. The years of not liking it and of coming to terms with it shaped me into the person who now looks at her nose and sees something beautiful. And who knows she is lucky to have a nose big enough to sniff out any bullshit that would make her think otherwise.

    Photographed by Paul B. Jones
  • Chanel Parks
    Assistant Editor at Sweet in New York, NY

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    I have a gap between my two front teeth and it’s been with me ever since I started growing adult teeth in kindergarten (I was an early bloomer, I guess?). It’s the Goldilocks of gaps— it’s not too wide nor too narrow, just the right amount of space to be a bonafide gap. You could call me the gap-toothed bitch from Mean Girls, if you want.

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    In kindergarten (big year, huh?) I used to go around telling my friends and teachers that the space was actually the result of a lost tooth that was going to grow back someday. I think I convinced myself of this physically impossible lie and waited for a long time for a pearly white to occupy the gap.

    After #toothgate, I just accepted it as a fixture of my life. There were a few times when I had the “Mom, I really, really need braces” conversation, but that was shot down when it was noted by both her and my orthodontist that the rest of my teeth were indeed straight and in good shape.

    Now, I often forget I have it. But when I see myself in pictures I think that it really punctuates my smile and is one of the cutest “imperfections” one could have. But maybe I’m just biased.
  • How does your gap make you feel today?

    Both my gap and I are feeling very tired, but we’re always open to an adventure.
  • Lucia Knell
    Account Strategist, performer, and choreographer in Brooklyn, NY

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    My eyebrows are pointy. It's something that not that many people have -- including those in my own family. I inherited them from my grandpa and was the only grandchild to be blessed with these bad boys.

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    I think I've always liked them because I didn't realize they were weird. I actually forget that they're there until someone points them out from time to time, which has kind of been the best of both worlds. It's something that's really unique to my face and body but has never been a point of concern. I'm sure the little reassuring talks from my Mom growing up probably didn't hurt (hi, Mom!). In 7th grade, when girls started to wax their eyebrows, I maybe had one day of feeling a little self-conscious about how different they were, but I got over it quickly. If I waxed the ends of my eyebrows the whole things would basically come off, so I decided not to try.

    As for now, they're great. Occasionally, I'll have someone ask if I "do them" or make them look the way they do each day. And the answer is a resounding no, mostly because I would never have the energy to do that every day. And because I like them. <3
  • How do your eyebrows make you feel today?

    I love them because they make me me. Sometimes friends will jokingly ask me to try and "put them down." Not only does that not work logistically (the hair on the ends literally grows up), but I really wouldn't look like myself without them. I have pictures of me as a baby, a toddler, a teenager and on, with these same eyebrows. It'd feel weird to be without them. Lastly, the grandpa thing really makes them special to me. He passed away last year and now there's a part of me that feels like a walking, living ambassador of his legacy. And for that, they are great. Go Grandpa!
  • Danielle Prescod
    Lifestyle Editor in New York

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    The feature I've learned to embrace is my big butt. This will sound insane to anyone born after '96 or so, but trust me, having a large derriere was not always the ideal look. Of course, now, my ass is considered an asset, but it used to be a constant source of insecurity.

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    It has taken a lot of time for me to get comfortable with my body, but growing up with this backside was terrible. First, my formative years were spent in Greenwich, Connecticut where girls like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy are the singular beauty standard. Second, I danced ballet and my post-pubescent body sprouted a butt that was pronounced and limiting in class. I stared at it all the time. I remember a cruel boy in middle school said, "Danielle's butt is so big, it always looks like she's wearing a diaper." I replayed that in my head for years and years after. I still check that I don't have diaper butt before I leave the house.

    I didn't truly get comfortable with my butt until I learned to start dressing for my body. It is really difficult for me to get any clothing from a store without altering it. My waist-to-hip ratio is pretty extreme so pants basically never fit me outright. I am often praying skirts zip up over my ass but now I know the designers that work and I am no longer devastated when something doesn't. I also take everything, absolutely everything, to the tailor. Not every trend or every piece is meant for you. I am happy to be able to find clothes that look good on me and highlight the things on my body that I am comfortable showing off.

     
  • How does your butt make you feel today?

    Today I love my butt! So many people are obsessed with it! I get compliments all the time. I am really proud and happy that it's totally natural, too, and in a world full of fake asses (literally!), mine is all real. That and I always look great in leggings.
  • Mary Marxen
    Actor, Brooklyn

    Tell me about the feature you've embraced -- what about it stands out?

    I'm a curl girl. My hair is a rare texture: not quite curly, not quite straight, a little sassy and always on point.

    Have you always embraced it or did it take time? Tell me a little about that journey.

    To fully express my journey with this hair would take an essay. The abridged version: My hair has dictated my life. Being the only Jewish girl with curls in my hometown made me feel like a fringe-freak. I'd never be like anybody else! I remember in kindergarten, I'd have my father pull my hair back in the tightest buns possible in a fruitless attempt to blend in with the rest of 'em. One day the clip holding my hair broke and I had to wear it down. A little boy teased me: "Ew! Look at your hair..." So I held my hair back with my hands for the rest of the day.

    So growing up, there were lots of tears and hair straighteners involved. Until I finally was like...wait a minute...this is a good look! Accepting it really ingrained in me what it means to be a unique individual. I have no other choice!
  • How does your hair make you feel today?

    Large and in charge.
Haley Nahman | July 26, 2016

Confidence is a gal’s best accessory and it’s FREE NINETY NINE!

We asked six women to talk to us about a part of their bodies that is unique or different or underrepresented on Victoria’s Secret runways. Thing that would qualify: a third eye. Thing that wouldn’t: Bruno Mars. We asked them about their relationship with this part of themselves. Did they always love it the way we love it? Did they ever considered it a flaw?

Defining a fully-functioning part of our bodies as flawed is a silly value judgement. We know this, but sometimes we hang on to that designation, don’t we? And tightly, too! As if it helps us rather than very directly hurts us. We might even deposit a thought into it every time we look in the mirror. Paying it, day after day, our precious mind.

What these hang-ups really represent is a part of us that doesn’t conform the way someone, probably a snot-nosed kid in middle school, told us it was supposed to.

But, DUH, all that stuff is silly. Not even because we’re not what we look like, but because maybe we are. A collection of features, that is. None flawed or otherwise. A far more favorable solution would be to look at what makes us uniquely us and soak it in, appreciate it, and love it because it’s an extension of our worthy selves.

This got mushy, fast. But it’s true and we know it! Click through above to learn about six beautiful women who know it too and — this is important — are actually living it.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis and Paul B. Jones.

embracing-features

  • Robin

    this photoset just explodes with self love and that is absolutely great <3

    • Haley Nahman

      isn’t it the best? I love them

  • Katrina Lee

    “She is lucky to have a nose big enough to sniff out any bullshit” – as a fellow female with a big nose, these are my new words to live by.

    • Haley Nahman

      COSIGN!

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      YES.

    • PCE

      i effing LOVE this

  • Leandra Medine

    I think we should use this opportunity on the conversational party bus right here to express and embrace our own flaws. I was often ridiculed for how hairy my arms are growing up — I think it was fairly innocent, most of my friends did not have middle eastern friends and thus didn’t know a persian limb, covered in flocculent glory when they saw it. I never actually cared, but feel like I pretended that I did because it seemed like the right thing to do. Once I developed the psychological resilience to think for myself and construct my own rules, though I realized that was silly. It was wasted energy pretending to be someone who I wasn’t (who cared about things like the volume of hair on her arms), doing something I didn’t even actually want to do (waxing it, shaving it, etc). Though body hair beyond the head has been historically regarded as unfeminine, I find the delicate-compared-to-my-bikini-line hairs to define me as I navigate womanhood using these very arms. And that’s the other thing, right??? I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna, but at least we have these features at all. When Hillary Swank’s leg was amputated in Million Dollar Baby, I thought to myself that I KNOW I would miss my hair, recall it longingly and refusing to get past it, if I didn’t even have arms. We’re living through the culture of more but sometimes it feels so good to think, this is enough.

    • Fran

      I love my hairy arms. I love that in certain positions in pictures it looks like there’s a guy’s arm there instead of mine, like in the cover of Tina Fey’s book.

  • Jennifer

    I used to hate my forehead because it’s big, but Tyra Banks changed that for me. She was a supermodel with a “five-head” (her words not, mine!). And that literally changed everything for me. So thanks Tyty! I also hated my hair. Being multi-racial, it’s kinky/curly. I always wanted soft, long hair. Not necessarily straight but soft enough to run my fingers through it without my fingers getting stuck. These days it’s still a pain, but I don’t care, my hair makes me ME, and I’ve done pretty well for myself, so I know it’s not that bad. Lastly, I always hated my big toes. I take after my dad’s side of the family, where the big toes kind of curve in. Weird to explain, but for years I hid my feet. I still get a little shy with certain open toes shoes, but for the most part I don’t care. At least I HAVE feet, ya know. Therefore I’m lucky. And with these feet, I’ll dance circles around you and outrun you in a foot race, so there! ;p

  • Kayla Tanenbaum

    I LOVE THIS!! Thank you so much, ladies, and Man Repeller for publishing this.

    It’s interesting. I think we usually (or often) think of fashion as making women feel worse about their “quirks,” ( I know I do) but in my case, trends have actually really helped. I’m short. I hate being short. I hate being not able to see. I follow so many long-limbed women on Instagram and I obsess over photos in which women contort their lithe bodies… I hate being armpit level with everyone. But a few season ago, the heels that I tortured myself with went out of style. Everyone started wearing flats. Consciously or unconsciously, I follow trends, so my heels stopped being appealing to me. And I was fucking comfortable. To be honest, I still struggle with my height, but wearing flat shoes everywhere has really helped my self esteem and my burgeoning bunions.

  • Jolie

    It’s funny how “imperfections” can be so perfect to people who don’t have them. You are all gorgeous! My boyfriend also inherited his pointy eyebrows from his grandpa, like Lucia, and they were one of the first things I noticed and loved about him.

    I’ve had giant boobs since I was like 12, so those have always been a point of contention for me (I’m around a 34H now). It’s taken me over ten years to realize that they’re the reason I am who I am — they’ve made me insecure at times; they’ve taught me confidence; they’ve singled me out constantly, whether in a clothing store (where I have to pick and choose carefully, because most clothes are not made for people with big boobs), a club (where suddenly I’m the center of attention), or on the street (where plenty of people love to comment on them). I’ve made friends and connections because of them. I’ve learned a lot about fashion because of them and their “limitations” (which I love to bypass). I can’t say I’ve never gotten a free bagel or two because of them. And although they’ve caused me plenty of (back and shoulder) pain, I love them as an integral part of my identity.

    • Lucia Knell

      <3

    • Robin

      Its funny because I’ve got AA size boobs and I hated them and sometimes still do but you know it’s okay. They might not make the boys faint but I think they have a nice shape. Boobs are pretty no matter their size

  • Harling Ross

    This post makes me want to shout my weird body quirks from the rooftop of the internet as opposed to praying for them to go away and writing sad diary entries about them (i.e. middle school me). HOW COOL. Here are 2 things: my boobs are different sizes and my hair is so coarse it could easily be harvested and woven into a nice blanket for a horse.

  • Patty Carnevale

    My toes are really really really long and once I stopped shoving them into too-small shoes and embraced the extra joint dexterity I pretty never have to bend down to pick up things off the floor again AND learned that I can write *in cursive* *with a pen* *on paper* with my toes.

  • Lebanese Blonde

    If I were to be interviewed for this, my answer would be nearly identical to Danielle’s, down to the ballet class and impossible-to-clothe waist-to-ass ratios and mean middle schoolers (in my case it was a horrible girl saying my ass could feed all of Afghanistan…which is just a bizarre insult).

  • Amelia Diamond

    how much TIME DO YOU GUYS HAVE

    My arms my stomach my thighs my skin nose my feet ….. !!!!

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I have hairy arms, a Meghan Fox thumb and REALLY weird toes (they’re like squashed down). But baby I was born this way.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      note that I have *a* Meghan Fox thumb — that means the other one is not. Also absurdly uselessly short pinkies!

  • FA

    Thank you so very very very! much. Loved reading it 🙂

  • ChiefCC

    Love love love this piece!!! I have worn thick glasses since third grade and it was YEARS before I felt pretty in them.

  • Annabel

    I LOVE THIS POST!

  • Zoë

    I love this!!! My arms have more arm hair then I care to advertise and my nose is crooked in a way that means I have two very different profiles. I wonder if/try to convince myself I broke it, but this post makes me want to embrace it! The Internet needs more of this gouda 🙂

  • Allison

    So I tried to *guess* the “flaws” by scrolling through the pics before reading the captions… You guys. You are so pretty. I really couldn’t even guess sometimes because you are all gorg.
    But on that note, I’ll add: my thighs, knees, birthmark on leg, frizzy hair, small boobs, and freckles. Used to HATE my freckles, actually, but now kind of love them.

  • Lauren

    I am a former big nosed girl. My siblings were blessed with perfect little noses that fit their faces, and I was graced with a beak that led to the insult “hawk nose” being thrown my way on multiple occasions. My nose made me so insecure and miserable that I decided that I was going to have the big bump in the middle of it shaved off, and so I got a nose job. I know today, that it was the right choice for me, as I have found peace with myself and my appearance. On the other hand, I sometimes feel guilt because I gave up a part of myself, something that made me unique. Learning to love yourself is such a battle, and I respect and admire all the other big nosed girls in this world because the beauty of a bigger nose has yet to be aptly touched upon in the mainstream. Bigger noses truly are beautiful, as are gap teeth, arm hair, birthmarks and every other thing that makes up who we are.

  • Nina

    Thank you for the wonderful important post!! All the girls featured are gorgeous. Personally I still whine about my fine Scandinavian hair and my large (often shiny) forehead, oh how I dream about having looong, thick, textured locks with tons of natural volume … As a child I was really skinny and tall for my age and I remember one girl who called me giraffe because of my (supposedly) long neck. I used to be jealous of short petite girls but now I must say that I love being tall, makes shopping so much easier I guess.

    • lilyelle

      My biggest insecurity is my super fine Scandinavian hair, as well! OH TO HAVE THICK, CURLY HAIR! Seeing Mary’s GORGEOUS curls and reading how she felt about them growing up was such a reality check. I still have issues with my hair, but it’s incredibly freeing to know that those are just MY issues, and no one else sees them the way that I do. I actually get compliments on my hair all the time! And somehow it’s still something I’m trying to change. Le sigh.

  • chouette

    OK so I saw Beyonce on the Mrs Carter tour and she jiggled her arm fat on purpose in front of everyone. EVEN VEGAN BEYONCE WHO WORKS OUT 28 HOURS A DAY HAS ARM FAT SO LET’S ALL JUST BE HAPPY WITH OURSELVES <3

  • Safi Bello

    I really enjoyed this post very much. Thanks. As an African woman I’ve always had full facial features. My nose fills up my face, I have full lips and tribal marks that you can see in the sun. But now full lips are in thanks to people like Angelina Jolie and some other celebrities. The tribal marks are slowly fading. I am embracing every bit of me. This post was a really good one. Thumbs up to Man Repeller and Leandra Medine.

  • Romina

    I also have a big butt insecurity like Danielle. My hips are very wide, like my bum, while my breasts are really-really small. This has gave me a lot of insecurities, specially since I would love to look like a delicate european model (who wouldn´t). Though I stand for every woman loving their own body, I cannot learn to apply this rule to myself. Like Danielle, the problem has somewhat improved by learning to dress my own pear-shaped body. I usually prefer skirts to pants, which are almost never flattering. I am not overweight, and I have also taken plenty of stuff to the tailor, but learning to accept my body continues to be something difficult.
    (Sorry for the poor english!)

  • Senka

    Similar to Danielle I have always had pretty wide hips and bum. They were big even when nothing else on me was. Now it’s popular, but back in a days when I was a (white, balkan) teen, being an hourglass was not popular. One was expected to look like Gwyneth Paltrow or one of the slavic or baltic, tall, pale ultra thin models gracing the runways. And lot’s of teen kids in my homeland did. Add to it the war and the fact we spent our formative years without food and nutrition abundance. Yet there I was. I had bum, I had boobs, I had hips, and I had tiny waist that made those even more obvious. I was teased mostly by other girls. Boys were not as mean. I feared wearing shorts or spaghetti straps more than anything in the world, so I opted for oversized T-shirts that would fit my dad better than me and baggy pants. I made sure I stay as thin as possible and embraced goth as a way to be, which helped me get through it. At 33 I embraced my curvy body. It is what it is, but still feel horribly inadequate in the same room with someone tall and blond as if I was somehow a lesser.

  • 10 years ago I has a jaw surgeon, my jaw was crooked and it also made a painfull click while eating. Now I still have major issues with the way I look, the jaw still is larger and the right side and points out to the left, even more when I smile. Also my left eye is lower and a little less ‘defined’ than my right eye. I have weird nose with 2 huge holes and a hooky top. I really try to look my best every day and to maintain the most natural version of myself (no make up or not too much) and I really try to appreciate my flaws but when I’m in a picture it Always looks like it’s not me, or what I wish i’d see. I find myself so ugly and how hard I try I cannot leave it behind me. My parentsd and my sister always get mad when I bring it up, so I don’t have anyone to have a decent talk about it. Everyone says they don’t see it and say i overreact, but I can’t believe that it’s not obvious that I looked weird. I love fashion and I love pretty stuff , but no matter how much I spend on a beautifull earrings or a cashmere sweater , I look in the mirror and I find that can’t pull it off. I know I shouldn’t feel that way about myself but I really can’t change it in my head as the mirror and pictures Always confront me with the reality. But I do feel like all the girls in this article are truly beuatifull.

  • I. Enoch

    A guy’s hang up… My ridiculously small penis. To call it small is an understatement, or overstatement. For so long I felt too self conscious to take part in my favorite pursuit – swimming – because it requires wearing a tight Speedo which means nothing to the imagination. Recently I decided that i’d just accept that part of me but at the same time not let it define me. As far as swimming goes: perhaps having a thumb tip in the Speedo means I’m more streamlined… Gotta look on the bright side.