by JoAnn R. Gurenlian, RDH, PhD
I recently found myself waiting in the reception area for a medical appointment and the doctor was running behind schedule. I picked up several magazines and perused them during my downtime, and I was truly struck by how many negative messages magazines contain. I wondered whether there really is that much wrong with us.
If we believed everything we read, we would all want to be slimmer, taller, wear make-up better, find the right hairstyle for our face shape, find our inner self, shape up our outer self, please our significant other more, make better meals in less time, have less clutter, decorate better, and on and on. Are we really that lackluster?
At this time of year when we pause to reflect and make resolutions, I have a suggestion. Resolve to like yourself more. I have been fortunate to attend and conduct many programs around the country this past year. I can’t imagine that the men and women I have had the privilege to teach really need that much improvement. Granted, we all want to be healthy and happy, but do we really need an extreme makeover physically and mentally? The oral health professionals I met looked pretty wonderful.
Before you resolve to lose weight, color your hair, or get some body part lifted, ask yourself this — is this what you want, or is it what the media says you should want?
We live in a world of oral health where we base our decisions on what is in the best interest of each patient, balancing their wishes with what we have learned from scientific evidence. We pride ourselves on giving each person our very best to make sure they are well cared for in our offices. Do you think our patients are looking at us and thinking we should get our eyebrows waxed or get rid of our gray hair? Is that what they remember about us, or do they remember that we took the time to help them understand their oral health, improve their function, and prevent caries and other diseases?
I am dismayed by the notion that we think we need to be more glamorous, more sexy, more energetic, just more, more, more! Why? Who are these people that are portraying us as inadequate? Where is their science? What are they selling that is in our best interest?
I realize this discussion has little to do with learning something new about oral health, but I had to vent. Next time you get a chance, take a good long look in the mirror. See yourself as you really are and savor the moment. Remind yourself that you are intelligent, vibrant, remarkable, unforgettable, and stunning. Tell yourself that what you do is important and makes a difference. Use that smile to smile for yourself. Maybe, just maybe, if we did that more often, we would not be so concerned with the things we read that give us the impression we are less than we are. To me, we are absolutely amazing. Don’t forget that!
JoAnn R. Gurenlian, RDH, PhD, is president of Gurenlian & Associates, and provides consulting services and continuing-education programs to health-care providers. She is a professor and interim dental hygiene graduate program director at Idaho State University, adjunct faculty at Burlington County College and Montgomery County College, and president-elect of the International Federation of Dental Hygienists.
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