Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Loss of tooth = loss of self-esteem: Last year I had to have a molar (second from my eyetooth) removed when it cracked in half while I was eating. My dentist had told me months ago I needed a crown, which I could not afford, so when it broke I had to have the tooth extracted. An implant will be about $3,000. I feel deeply ashamed about the missing tooth, especially when it comes to dating. It is not visible when I speak or smile, but I keep thinking it will be a deal breaker when someone finds out about it. I’m also on the curvy side, so now someone would need to accept two compromises to date me.
I’m saving up for an implant, but in the meantime I don’t want to be a hermit! What can I do to get over this?
A: The most important thing, I think, is not to think of the shape of your body as a “compromise” that someone else will have to make in order to date you. You should look for people who are attracted to your body, rather than people who think of it as something they have to overlook or make excuses for in order to be with you. If someone you’re considering dating says something to that effect, then you’ll know they are not right for you. I can understand feeling self-conscious about your missing tooth, and don’t want to just blithely tell you to not worry about it, but as you say, it’s not visible during ordinary conversation, and you’re likely being harder on yourself about it than you need to be.
That’s not to say, by the way, that you’re wrong to feel anxious about how people will treat you—people are often cruel and judgmental about the size of others’ bodies or the state of others’ teeth, and it makes sense that you’d feel particularly vulnerable at the prospect of going out on the dating market while you’re feeling down about both. The most important thing you can do is look for people who seem genuinely interested in and excited about you just as you are, rather than people who confirm your doubts and anxieties and treat you as a “compromise.”