Last month I shared some of my experience encountering sexism while accessing medical care.
I’ve since seen my dentist, who I just love as we’ve had the most amazing discussions over the years, and gotten a night guard (aka bite plate aka mouth guard). I’m very privileged that my extended dental benefits covered the multiple visits and the appliance.
I immediately thought about how unsexy I felt. This was echoed by many folks who decided that this alone was enough to not wear a dental appliance.
That sat really poorly with me. This night guard is a minor thing, easily removed when needed. My muscles are relaxing as the appliance does its job. But yet it felt like such a big thing to myself and other people because of concerns around losing sex appeal.
Not rational and, for myself, not terribly examined.
The night guard is to alleviate numbness in my face caused my clenching of my jaw. Scarring on the inside of my cheeks and scalloping along the edges of my tongue were signs I was indeed a clencher. So is my sister Anj and my father. It’s likely gotten worse because of a change in my paid work that has increased my stress.
The benefits of wearing this little clear appliance are less headaches and a return of feeling to my face.
I think, at the heart of all this sex appeal talk, is a nugget of ableism. The idea that only bodies that don’t need assistive devices, dental appliances or any other supports are less sexy than able/unassisted bodies is deeply problematic and I need to fight that impulse.
The other part is our old frenemy, sexism and the idea that women must constantly strive to be sexy to all people, especially men, at all times.
You know what is sexy? Someone who has had a good night’s sleep instead of clenching their jaw into spasms. Self care is sexy AF.
Basically if someone dares tell you or me that our self care, dental appliances, accessibility supports or anything else we need to be well are somehow making us less sexy we need to flip those people the bird.