Whiter smiles

Faith & Inspiration | Andrée Seu Peterson

One day when I wasn’t looking everyone started whitening his or her teeth.

It’s happening across the Big Pond, too, because my sister emailed from Birmingham, England, to ask if whitening strips are cheaper here than in the UK.

I am by turns amused and incensed at the radio commercials, which employ the same strategy as the ubiquitous weight loss commercials. It goes like this: “We really care about you. The holidays (or Valentine’s Day, or summer vacation) are coming up, and if it is important to you not to gross out your family and colleagues with your unsightly thighs and ugly yellow teeth, then we can help.”

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The poor woman knew she wasn’t proportioned like Angelina Jolie, but had never quite thought of herself as “gross” or “unsightly” until the advertisers had obligingly told her. The poor man was just minding his own business repairing cars for a living and had never in his life given a minute’s thought to the shade of his teeth until the suggestion was dropped in his ear that his closest friends have been talking behind his back about how sub-par his grin is.

And how about those male-targeted pitches for hormonal assistance. “Are you not the man you used to be?” asks the omniscient announcer. Gosh, you hadn’t thought of that. Maybe you aren’t the man you used to be. Maybe you’re missing out. Maybe you’ve been left in the dust. But lucky for you, these guys on the radio care about you and want to raise your self-esteem (having just crushed it).

It’s getting harder to feel good about yourself. To stand still is to fall behind. To run with the latest fad is the only chance of staying in the game. In the past you were competing only with fellow slouches with imperfect thighs, and age-appropriate tooth enamel, and the breasts God gave you. All that will never do these days.

Or … you can turn off the radio and open the Bible that tells you where your true identity lies, in Christ. I have noticed that even in our modern times, the beauty that arrests me is the kind God delights in:

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).

There is no smile like God’s.

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