I’ve always been self-conscious about my teeth. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a gap at the front. And a few years ago, I managed to split a tooth in half while chomping on a bag of toffee popcorn, leaving me with a widely spaced top row after I got the other half removed.
But funnily enough, my smile is one of the first things people say lovely things about. I now try to wear my smile confidently without giving too much thought to the things I’d change. So when I heard about Colgate’s #PoutFree campaign, celebrating smiles after what can only be described as a chaotic past year, I just knew I had to up my smiling game. Armed with my trusty Colgate Max White Ultimate Toothpaste to give me that white toothy grin, I decided to give power smiling a try.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘power smiling’, it’s somewhat similar to power dressing but with your teeth, not your clothes. I wanted to see if power smiling for a week would impact my confidence, knowing my teeth looked great and that my opinion was the only one that mattered.
As a freelance beauty and lifestyle journalist, every day is different – some are filled with deadlines and product testing, others with virtual events. I began this one bright and early, ready to tackle my overgrowing to-do list. I went straight in with a fresh tube of Colgate Max White Ultimate Toothpaste, its minty goodness really helping to wake me up. I then proceeded with my usual morning skincare routine of cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream and SPF.
In between my morning deadlines and evening’s dose of trash TV, I had a number of headshots to take for some articles of mine about to be published. Now, I’d always smile in these (I’d hate to have my face plastered on the internet looking like I’d just eaten a sour lemon!) but instead of my usual no-teeth smile, I decided to put my power smiling to the test with the world’s biggest grin. To my surprise, I loved how the picture turned out! There was no having to take 50+ options, no worrying what other people would think. I just went straight for it, which made such a difference to my day.
Much like the day before, I was up bright and early writing more articles. I wrote up a review of a new sunscreen which required me to take a before and after picture, and once again it only took a few snaps to find the pictures I wanted to use. I loved the way the pictures looked within the article and it got me thinking about the fact that I spend so much of my time worrying about what other people might think of my teeth that I often forget to enjoy myself in the moment.
I had an early night as I prepared for an exciting Wednesday, which required me to pack a little day bag. I threw in my Colgate Max White Ultimate Toothpaste, toothbrush, leave-in conditioner and a few skincare products before getting a solid night’s rest.
Finally, the day I had been looking forward to the most had come around. I had a room for myself at a hotel in Shoreditch – pretending I was a boujee queen – and plans to see my friend Vanessa for lunch. Yay, human interaction! The receptionist who checked me in couldn’t see my full face due to my mask but I was most certainly grinning from ear to ear. It felt so nice to have a casual chat with someone other than my desk stationery.
I worked for a couple of hours and then freshened up before heading to lunch. I didn’t have to remind myself to smile when I met up with Vanessa as there was so much laughter, great chat and the most delicious katsu sandos to be had. It was actually the first time that we’d met in person as we became freelancer friends in the midst of the pandemic. We thought we’d mark the occasion with a few snaps for Instagram – it’d be rude not to, eh! We stood on a little side street in Shoreditch and giggled away, trying to find the best lighting for our #PoutFree selfies.
I then headed back to my hotel for the rest of the afternoon. I had a midday brush to remove any katsu sando remains then video chatted with my twin sister, Ally, to tell her about my day. I shared the lovely pictures Vanessa and I took and she commented on how much fun it looked.
Thursday & Friday
The last two days of the week rolled into one and again consisted of a lot of article writing and picture taking. A definite highlight was discovering that my local supermarket stocked my favourite sweet treat – I was wearing a mask when I saw it but anyone who passed me by would’ve registered my audible excitement. I made sure I brushed extra thoroughly later that night.
As the week drew to a close, I reminisced on how great it’d been and how just trying to smile more made me feel more confident – not just while working but also while doing small tasks like heading to the supermarket.
"A change of body language can really help to improve your mood for the better," explains life coach Julie Leonard. "Studies exploring the relationship between our facial expressions and our emotions show significant results in that by just smiling we can change how we feel and change how positively we perceive the things around us."
I admit that sometimes a stressful day can leave me feeling down in the dumps but mustering a grin can really help me to feel more positive about situations. Whether surrounded by people or just in my own company, I’ll be sure to remember to keep on smiling.