Please, I beg of you, do not make the jokes. Saying something snide about the British and our teeth is hardly original. I've heard enough. And unlike those of you whose looks get criticized more or less in private, every tiny flaw of mine shows up in pictures and people see it. This is part of the job when you're a model and actress, as I have been for a number of years. I'm used to it. When I go to work, people take care of my hair and make up to make me as flawless as possible. But, sometimes I would get comments about my teeth. Not any more, even though Google will still turn up evidence that my old teeth were, shall we say, a tribute to my proud heritage.
I looked in the mirror one day and noticed that my two front teeth seemed shorter all of a sudden. Then I found myself checking them out every time I shaved. At first I thought I was imagining it, but then I realized the teeth next to them seemed shorter also. Wait a minute, didn't my eye teeth used to be pointy? Now they were flat. And then I realized the truth. My dentist had told me years ago I was a grinder, probably in my sleep because I never noticed myself grinding during the day. Whatever stress I was feeling during the day was obviously taking its toll on my teeth while I slept. At first I got a "nightguard" so I would protect my teeth, but the more I focused on the damage I had done, the more I realized it was time for a repair. When I learned that porcelain veneers could bring my teeth back to their original length, I struggled between wanting to renovate my mouth and feeling vain about doing something. But when someone mentioned they couldn't see my teeth when I smiled, I realized it was now or never. Now my teeth look the way they did in college and you know what? A little vanity isn't such a bad thing once in a while.
Everybody always said "You're such a pretty girl." Some of them even had the nerve to say, "Except for those teeth." Even when they didn't say it, I could practically hear them thinking it. To be honest, I couldn't even appreciate my face because I was hung up on those teeth. But my family just couldn't afford to get braces for me. I always knew I was going to do something about them, I just didn't know what or when or how. How could I believe that a segment on "Good Morning America" would be the answer to all those questions? And if you're one of those people who thought I was pretty before, how do you like me now?
I did not start out looking like the "before" picture. When did my front teeth disappear? At first I thought it was just a lot of bad lighting in the candid family snapshots. And that fluorescent light over the bathroom mirror throws weird shadows on everybody's face. Finally, one day I admitted to myself that it wasn't the lighting, it was my teeth. My dentist told me I was grinding them down. So he bonded material onto the edges to add back the length I lost. Quite honestly, the first solution didn't work because I just couldn't stop clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I wasn't even aware that I was doing it, and I just chipped my teeth all over again. I'm not a kid anymore. I've got a family and a responsibility. I was ready to look like the man I've become. That's the man I want to be.
I was born in Russia. My parents raised me to be grateful for what I have and to make the most of what I've got, no complaining about what you don't have. So I didn't have perfect teeth, so what? I knew that I had other things. People told me I should be a model, but how was that going to happen? When I heard about the Supermodel of the Year competition, I entered and I prayed and I worked and I won. I didn't let the fact that my teeth weren't perfect stop me from reaching for my dreams. And then, as it turned out, perfect teeth were part of my dream come true.