learning to love my smile

Smiles are one of the most adorable things on the planet. Whenever I see a little old lady or man grin or smile, when my nieces do the biggest smile they possibly can at me, when I make my parents smile, when I do something dorky and my boyfriend laughs and grins at me.

Smiles are really heartwarming and can make anybody’s day. If someone smiles at me in the street it instantly makes me a lot more happy. Not even an exaggeration, sometimes when people smile at me in the street I’ll spend a good few minutes after thinking how adorable their smile was and that I hope I responded with a nice smile and most of my negative passing by thoughts have disappeared.

But how come it was so hard for me to like my smile growing up?

I remember back when I was a pre-teen, I was in that phase of being a moody little nuisance who would throw tantrums and cry when I wasn’t treated like an adult and I’d ring my eyes in black charcoal and think I was hardcore for shopping at Affleck’s Palace in Manchester. I’d barely ever smile in photos and would instead opt for either a moody pout or keeping my mouth shut and barely letting the corners of my mouth even turn upwards. Why did I hate to smile so much?

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Growing up I did have to get braces eventually which obviously made me a lot more nervous about smiling, for some reason I hated my brace smile and would mainly stick to closed mouth smiles for photos.

Eventually when removed I had straight teeth, something most people would envy, but I’d still get the tease of “why do you never smile?!” whenever people took photos of me or if I posted selfies on Facebook, in them I’d always be pouting/covering my mouth or closed mouth smiles.

I can tell you off the top of my head most of the problems I had with my smile, or what I thought my flaws were. I always thought it made me look creepy or that my laughter lines looked way too creased and ugly. I remember smiling for a photo with a mascot at Alton Towers back in high school and my hooded eyes made me look like I had no upper eyelid and my laughter lines gave me a slightly ‘creepy’ grin. I remember my ex looking at and laughing too so I knew my smile looked very off in the photo. I deleted it off Facebook since then cause of how gross I believed I looked.

However in recent years I have noticed how self-conscious people can be about their smiles. Some of my friends hide their mouths or refuse to smile in photos and just pout instead. Even though at the end of the day I think their smiles are beautiful and whenever I managed to make them smile I feel so blessed and pleased to see the grin on their face.

Why would I want to hide what could possibly make people happy? Why would I want to hide the cheerful expression your face makes that fills other people with cheer? Why was I so against showing my teeth?

Since then I have tried to smile more. I practiced it every day. I’d grin at my parents, my boyfriend, my nieces, my cat, the dog living down the street, shop assistants, bus drivers – I would smile at everyone I possibly could until it just came naturally and my first thought was ‘make sure people see you’re happy to see them’ and not ‘oh god don’t smile your smile is ugly’.

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And now I look back and think, why did I hide this?! Seeing me smile in photos wants to make me smile more and wants to make me radiate brightness. Smiling can do that, can’t it?┬áThere’s benefits to smiling such as:

  • It lowers anxiety and stress
  • It releases endorphins that make you happier
  • It can help your immune system
  • You become more approachable
  • You feel more comfortable
  • Encourages trust
  • Encourages confidence
  • It’s contagious!!

So why not make it your goal to smile at as many as people as possible? Obviously you don’t have to smile at everyone. Growing up female I know there’s many times obnoxious old men have told me to ‘brighten up’ and ‘smile more’ and that’s made me want to scowl even more. But if you make it your goal to smile at every child you meet, every cat you meet, every dog you meet and all your friends – you’ll instantly see yourself become a lot more happy and comfortable with your own grin. And I’m sure everyone around you will see how beautiful your smile actually is.

Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x