It’s a matter of aesthetics. I simply find certain kinds of mouths repulsive. For me, it all has to do with the teeth.
The worst mouth? The one where you have to wonder whether or not there are any teeth at all. The person hardly ever lets you see them. I dislike the bulldog expression – the bottom teeth appear, but the top teeth do not. I dislike very small teeth – they look like corn on the cob.
If you add tension, smirking, and other strange manneristic muscular signals to the secret-teeth, bottom-teeth-only, or corn teeth, then I have a very primal sort of reaction.
It’s a kind of prejudice – it is certainly a preference. Back in the day when I was basically a serial monogamist, all of my boyfriend/lovers had medium-to-large white teeth (not that it matters here, but I am also partial to strong chins and warm expressive eyes). My husband shows his nice white teeth. My whole family has big white gleaming teeth. Maybe it’s a narcissistic tribal affiliation.
Perhaps it is a coincidence, but my Dad lost all his teeth when he was young. I had the most trouble relating with him when his dentures were rather small. Later, when he was older, the dentures were (or at least seemed) bigger, and he smiled more often (and more naturally). We got along better – but that was probably for other reasons altogether. Still – I wonder if this sort of thing could really be a subliminal/unconscious factor i our responses to others?
I don’t care about skin color or language or class or sexuality – but I just don’t like those scary little teeth set in those hard unfeeling mouths. In such a case I may have to admire him (usually it’s a him I mean) in spite of teeth capacity or expressive usage. Someone would have to be so brillant or witty or creative that I would overlook the scary teeth situation, like say… Anthony Hopkins.
I never realized this about myself until now. I know this is a really odd thing. I wonder if I am alone in feeling this way. Having realized this, I’ll have to be more conscious of it in my daily interactions with people. It may be unfair, maybe, may… be.
I like big clean white teeth that show up and make a strong appearance. Americans are known all over the world for our big white honest teeth. Sometimes the teeth may suggest some sort of aggression, like a tiger baring its teeth, but I still prefer that to the scary little teeth. I’m very welcoming to Mormons at the door despite having been a door-to-door cousin Jehovah’s Witness – for some reason they tend to have great teeth (and they are so wonderfully earnest).
Actually I think there are people who prefer the secret teeth, the corn on the cob, show-the-bottom-teeth like a bulldog kind of thing. Maybe they are equally repulsed by people who show their upper teeth. Maybe they are self-conscious about their own teeth. I can’t say that I have the answers on this.
Could there be a political divide – could teeth actually be a factor?
I started having wild thoughts about this. JFK and Jimmy Carter showed teeth. The Clintons have the teeth and so does Kerry. Hollywood people are, of course, big teeth-showers. I’m sometimes undecided about Ahhnold – I like his teeth – but I notice that he doesn’t show them much when he is around the President.
It seems like such a shallow sort of thing, but I wonder if there really are any perceptual differences or other psychological effects across populations based on tooth preferences. I have really gotten to dislike the white male republican kind of mouth. Here’s what I mean.
Nixon had a nice smile:
But is that how we remember him? No, here is the mouth I think of…
Bush is more attractive to me when he shows his teeth.
See? This is nice.
But here is how I see him in my mind’s eye:
It’s probably not a consistent thing. I’m sure there are lots of attractively-toothed Republicans and some scary little-toothed bulldog-underbited Democrats. Condi has a big toothy smile, but that one is a bit terrifying. Zell Miller looked like what he really was, a DINO. Joe Leiberman is borderline – smallish teeth but he shows them sometimes.
Still, here are a few examples of mouths with expressions that I find particularly unattractive.
Perdue (GA Gov)
Chambliss (GA Sen)
Man O man, show me thy teeth.