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Smile big! Braces won’t be there long

SHARE Smile big! Braces won’t be there long

I just got braces, and I feel like the biggest loser in school. All my friends are pretty, and then there's me. I feel like the ugliest of all my friends. What do I do? I know I'm not ugly, and it's the inside that counts, but every time I smile or laugh, I feel like closing my mouth back up again. Please help! —Brooke, 14, Winter Park, Fla.

When you say that you know you're not ugly and it's the inside that counts, I don't believe you. I feel you're just saying that because intellectually you know that's the right thing to say, but emotionally you're not buying it.

My advice: Go to a mirror, look at yourself and have a conversation in your head. Ask the part of you who is feeling insecure about the braces why she feels that way. And this isn't about putting yourself on the spot — but rather about getting to know yourself better.

Once you are honest with yourself about the reasons the insecure part of you is feeling so bad about braces, then you can address those concerns point by point. For example — let's say one of your fears is that guys will never like you with braces. Well, you can rest assured that braces are just a temporary bridge to teeth you'll feel far more comfortable with later — and even though the bridge isn't the final destination, it doesn't mean it's an ugly part of the ride. After all, Gwen Stefani had braces while she was dating Gavin Rossdale. But the thing about Gwen? She wore them with confidence, and the reality is that everything looks better when you're confident.

So the point of your long chat in the mirror is not only to talk yourself through this, but also to get used to your face with braces. (Smile big!) Then once you've made peace with them, stop hiding them — own them. Work them! Smile more, not less. By making your braces part of who you are (instead of something that you keep trying to hide), you will make them look great on you. And if you have any doubts about how great braces can look, check out Jen Steele, Miss Seventeen, on the cover of the current issue. Would she be on the cover of a major magazine if braces were ugly? She's not hiding her braces, and neither should you.

I've been having these weird feelings for six months. I checked online under mental illness (since it's not physical — I have already been to a doctor), and found out there is a good chance I have generalized anxiety disorder. I have almost all the symptoms. I've told my mom because it really scares me, but I don't think she is taking me seriously. What should I do? —Jane, 14, Minneapolis, Minn.

You're smart to want to get to the bottom of how you're feeling. But while the Internet is a great resource, you shouldn't make a self-diagnosis based on what it says. I'm not saying you don't have this disorder — only that you're not a doctor and shouldn't diagnose yourself.

I had a friend who thought she had a tumor because of some stuff she read on the Internet, but she turned out to have a completely harmless lipoma. Talk to your school therapist: This person is trained to help. You could also ask your mom to take you back to your general doctor and bring your research with you. The doctor will either calm your fears or refer you to a specialist . . . and I'm sure your mother will support you once your doctor backs you up.


Questions may be sent directly to Atoosa Rubenstein at dearseventeen@hearst.com. Atoosa Rubenstein, the founding editor of CosmoGirl! magazine, is the editor in chief of Seventeen magazine.


© Hearst Communications, Inc., Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.