Why don’t you brush your teeth?

That was the first thing out of the mouth of the boy I was hopelessly head over heels for in sixth grade.

I tried to explain that I did brush my teeth, in fact I had never had a cavity! But I had too much fluoride as a kid and what resulted were mottled splotchy teeth, a condition known as hyper fluorosis.

I walked home that day with my friend Amy, fantasizing about the day that my little ugly duckling self would evolve into a swan.

I’ll get my teeth fixed! I’ll get contacts! I’ll let my hair grow long! I’ll get new clothes! Tim will never know what hit him!”

Circa 1992

Of course it took nearly five years to get my teeth fixed and once we finally did my mom could only afford to have the front two veneered. I finally got contacts my junior year of high school and my hair didn’t get long until I was married. *sigh* But during those seven-ish years I learned that my happiness wasn’t based on my hair, my teeth or what I wore on my face. And slowly…confidence came. (I mean, I still TOTALLY cared about my hair, teeth, clothes and glasses…but they weren’t everything.)

Through the magic of facebook I found Tim, but with nearly twenty years between that stinging comment that helped shape/destroy my confidence through the rest of my adolescence and now? I didn’t really care. And I really doubt he does either. Or that he even remembers saying it.

But man, it hurt. And it’s obviously stuck with me.

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.” -Baz Luhrmann

My little kid is in school now, with other kids who may not take her feelings into consideration. One day she will probably come across a Tim and he may try to destroy everything she knows to be true about herself in less than ten words. I work consciously every day to show my little kid that happiness doesn’t come from what you wear, what you look like or even more importantly what others say about you. Happiness comes from how you feel about yourself, and how you treat those around you.

It may be our most important job as her parents to help her realize, and hold onto, her self worth. Even when others attempt to destroy it. Of course I want my kid to be wicked smart, but above all else? I want her to be kind, to herself and to those around her.

I had the opportunity to talk about self confidence in myself, my little kid and the others around me with four other ladies. We all want the best for our kids, but at the same time we all realize that awkward growing pains are a part of life, and we’re going to do our best to get our kids through them.

How do you attempt instill an unshakable confidence in your kids?


Are you a parent to a teen? Could their confidence be vastly improved with a new smile? Blissfully Domestic and Invisalign Teen are giving away a full treatment (up to $5,500) to one deserving teen. Get the full details at the Invisalign Teen contest page on Blissfully Domestic with several ways to enter.


I was fortunate to be able to participate in this campaign with Invisalign Teen. I was compensated for my time in sharing my story and the Invisalign Teen contest with Blissfully Domestic, not for promoting a specific product (although you have to admit it’s a pretty darn cool product.) The statements and opinions are my own.


  1. You’re so sweet talking about your daughter 🙂

  2. Having watched your video, I have to say that if someone has a big piece of green spinach on their teeth, they TOTALLY look worse smiling!

  3. Oh I love seeing all of you in that video. Also, you are adorable. That photo in the video- I swear it was Addie.


  4. The one hurtful school-days comment that’s stuck with me? It was said by my now-husband. In the eighth grade. He doesn’t remember saying it, but he felt very bad about it when I told him a few years ago.

    (PS. That’s an awesome sweater vest.)

  5. That is A LOT of denim in that portrait.

    I had a very “boy” haircut all through highschool. I don’t know what I was thinking.

  6. You are cute in your sixth grade awky-ness. I wore a hat with a huge flower on it for my sixth grade portrait- what was I thinking?

  7. oh my gosh! your daughter looks so much like you from that photo! the hair especially. I think a part of life is growing up with dorky pictures of ourselves as children so we are humbled later on in life. I’ve stopped being embarrassed about my gawd awful ones and show them with pride over how ridiculous i looked.

  8. Here’s how awesome I was:

    Casey Reply:


  9. I’m not sure how it happened, but my 18-year old daughter has always had a healthy self-image. I thank my lucky stars every day that she is kind, smart, happy and beautiful.

  10. the vest over all denim? so hip.

    also? in 7th grade a super cutie named steve told me I was so ugly i would never get a boyfriend.

    oh lord does middle school suck.

  11. Oh, teeth. My MIL is my dental hygienist and won’t let me try Invisalign. Braces helped me in middle/high school, but I had everything move when my wisdom teeth came in, which is the opposite of what my orthodontist said would happen. Sigh.

    BUT? I am more than my teeth!

    But, really, I just wanted to comment because I was totally quoting The Sunscreen Song the other day. My husband and I were talking about dancing the funky chicken at our 75th wedding anniversary. So, I loved your reference. 🙂

  12. I always notice someone’s smile first and almost didn’t date my wonderful current boyfriend because his teeth are so bad. He actually has a hard time biting off a piece of something because his teeth are so crooked. So I always had nice teeth since my mom worked for an orthodontist; but I had such bad hair moments all through school. There’s a picture of me somewhere out there with a short bilevel haircut, an argyle sweater vest and twist beads. I rocked the twist beads!

  13. Totally made me smile. Love that. Being a kid is tough. I do seem to recall, though, that I didn’t give a **** what most people thought about me, and most people therefor seemed to like me. I think there must be something to that. 🙂

  14. I couldn’t resist a comment on this. 🙂 I know exactly what (and who) you are talking about! I’m there with you: hyper fluorosis is not fun, especially as a pre-teen, teen, adult, etc. Been there. Ugh.

    I don’t remember any ugly ducking, but in 6th grade, I secretly envied the way you underlined each word individually when you titled your book reports and assignments. (Yes friends, our book reports and such were handwritten back then.) You were so cool! Not just cool because your papers looked different from the rest of us, but because you had the confidence to turn it in like that. Tim didn’t deserve your awesomeness. You had the confidence to be creative and occasionally rock a wild scrunchie. I have no doubt that your kids are genetically wired to do cool things like underline words and take figs to school when they study the Etruscans–I bet they’ll do it with a smile.

    Thanks for letting me share in your flashback, friend.

  15. The best thing about Invisalign Teen is no-one need know you are wearing aligners!; )
    I’ve retweeted this article and look forward to your tweets!

  16. I tell my daughter (shes 3) everyday all multiple times that shes beautiful whether shes is sick and looking a mess or dressed up or just in pj’s it doesn’t matter and i always tell her how proud i am of her accomplishments big or small as wall as how smart she is. Some kids don’t hear those things enough. I want her to know whatever path she chooses in life I’m behind her to push her forward or pick her up when she falls.

    She once told me she wanted to be a dog when she grows up….:::crickets chirping::: but I still support her dream….lol