And few knows that better, perhaps, than Truro teen Shelby Robinson who has had to endure such cruel taunts for much of her life.
“I hate my smile, I always hide it, I never smile in pictures, even in my school pictures I won’t smile, when I laugh I even cover my mouth so no one can see my teeth,” Robinson, 18, said, during a recent Facebook posting. “I get bullied and picked on everyday by anyone who sees my teeth, they always say ‘eww, go get braces.’"
As much as she would love to have had braces long ago, however, as the daughter of a single parent in a low-income household, that has not been possible.
Robinson’s Facebook posting occurred after she learned of an online contest underway by Victoria Court Dental.
The winner of that contest, who is to be named at month’s end, will receive an opportunity to have their teeth straightened through a process known as Invisalign, which uses a procedure involving clear plastic, wireless braces.
Encouraged by her friend and former Big Sister, Sarah Olmstead, to enter the contest, Robinson wrote up her story and posted it to Victoria Court Dental’s Facebook page.
“I was kind of scared of posting because I knew people would, like, have negative comments to say about it,” Robinson said.
And, she was right.
“One kid commented on it and he was like, ‘kill yourself’ and other people were just making fun of how they (her teeth) look and said it was like child abuse … .”
Fortunately, however, the positive comments outweighed the bad. And then the frenzy of the social media world took hold and people began hitting the ‘Like’ prompt on her posting in ever-increasing numbers until it took on a life of its own.
“It got a thousand (Likes) and then 2,000 and kept going until it got to like 12,000 (and growing),” Robinson said.
Robinson’s teeth are such that they require more than can be accomplished through the Invisalign process and she therefore doesn’t qualify for the orthodontic contest.
When her story came to the attention of business partners Zack Rafih and Steve MacNeil of Zack’s Auto Sales, however, they contacted Victoria Court Dental to see how they could help.
The end result is that Dr. Roger Daya of Victoria Court Dental is contributing his expertise while Zack’s Auto Sales is picking up the tab for the physical part of the procedure, which will take about two years to complete and carries a $6,000 value.
“I’m so excited. I didn’t think that there would be anybody out there who would be that generous to cover the whole cost,” said Robinson, who can’t wait to see the finished results.
From Daya’s perspective his contribution is being offered as “… just another opportunity to look at a way to give back to the community.”
That sentiment is shared by MacNeil and Rafih.
“It was just one of those stories about kids being bullied and all of that stuff so we just said, let’s see if we can help,” Rafih said. “It’s always nice to give back.”
As for his message to Robinson: “Good things happen to good people,” he said, in an e-mail to her. “Keep your chin up and keep smiling.”
For the teenager who has too long hid her smile, that day can’t come soon enough.
“That I can smile and not have to worry about hiding my face and worrying ‘oh my God, can people see that?’” she said, of her best hopes on the day when those much-awaited braces come off.