When you turn on the television, especially television news, you’re often greeted with attractive people, sometimes younger, sometimes older, but they always seem to have one thing in common: A nice smile, perfect, white, straight teeth. It’s like there is an unspoken requirement that in order to be in front of a camera, one must have a perfect (or near perfect) smile. On the internet it’s a little more relaxed. YouTube is a place where anyone can upload their own opinions for the world at large and it represents the democratization of the news and opinion. No longer does a person have to conform to standards of attractiveness if they have a message that they want to share with the world. That is, at least in theory.
Do people who are less than attractive carry less credibility? That is the question, and the answer depends on who you ask. I personally think as a culture many Americans are more likely to trust someone who is seen as attractive, or at least well presented. How do I know this? Because I run a YouTube channel.
Now I’m not the most attractive person, I do not have a good smile, and it’s something I’ve been self-conscious about for years. So when I go in front of the camera, it’s with a little bit of self-doubt simply because of my appearance. I play it off pretty well, and get on with the show, but somewhere I wonder if I would have more credibility, if I had straight teeth.
I’ve never really had the money for dental work, nor do I have insurance. I’ve needed braces all of my life, but I grew up poor, and therefore couldn’t afford them, and was never pushed to get them.
For a long time I never saw it as an issue, but as I grew up, I realized that my smile (or lack thereof) may have cost me a lot of opportunities. Whether it was dates in high school, or jobs afterwards. Just how many, I will never know. I’m reminded of a viral article of a woman that had a similar issue, bad teeth, a bad smile, and no money to fix it, and how she then took it to YouTube to show people who didn’t believe her how bad it really was. The story was of Linda Tirado, a mother in poverty whose words resonate with me, "You don't get hired for a job if you look like this. Maybe you get hired at the corner store for the graveyard shift, but nobody's putting you out in front, buddy. Nobody wants to hire somebody like this because it will reflect poorly on them."
I’ve had a similar reaction to some of my own videos on YouTube. With my bad teeth, I’ve received comments such as,
"Fix you teeth then you can talk properly ffs.have you no respect for yourself “
Bad grammar aside, it’s the content of the comment that is important. Assuming that those with bad teeth do not respect themselves is hurtful. Many people have little access to affordable dentistry.It really makes you want to say “Hey buddy, not everyone has a few grand for dental work lying around” Whenever you see something like this.
It speaks to the mindset of many people towards the poor in general. Poor dental hygiene isn’t a sign of laziness or lack of respect for oneself; it certainly can lead to low self-esteem, something I dealt with earlier in my life. It’s a sign of poverty. Poverty is an issue that I deal with regularly on my show, because I’ve lived much of my life in it, and now I try to spread awareness of the effects of it.
Perhaps I’m doing my own cause a disservice, since I am someone who is seen because of his bad teeth, as not being credible. Or maybe I’m the perfect person to speak about poverty because of that very reason.