Brushing Teeth. Social Awareness. & the Link Between the Two.

“Unthreatening, minty-fresh, commonplace toothbrushes are being trafficked into dangerous, dirty, aggressive jobs of feeding the insecurities of young women, as well as their abdomens. Ridding these toothbrushes of their innocence are plagued minds convinced that their residence is not thin enough. These residences submit to the inadequacy, forcing the toothbrush to rid the not just the mouth but the stomach of all food. The extravagant gag reflexes rebel against the will of their owner in trying to purge the body of calories, instead intaking 2 additional ounces by sucking the brush into the stomach, betraying the secret of the woman who hides her Bulimia.”

In receiving an assignment to write a piece on the mundane activity of brushing teeth, I was irritated. How could this be interesting? Most of mankind does this mindlessly. As I sat staring at the computer screen, wondering how in the world I was going to make brushing my teeth something another human being would want to read about, I remembered a conversation over Christmas dinner three years back. My cousin, a surgeon, stated that she had recently operated on a man who had swallowed 40 toothbrushes. “40 toothbrushes?! How is that possible,” I questioned. Suddenly, brushing teeth became a little more interesting.

Was this man the sole eater of hygiene products? Or do other humans suddenly get the urge to swallow their toothbrush whole? Time to ask Google. After running a search on the bodily consumption of toothbrushes, I discovered a new story that again blew my mind. Young girls were using these innocent objects and turning them into an object to feed a mental illness. In their attempt to gag themselves and purge their body of food, some would inhale the toothbrush. Requiring a visit to the doctor for the object’s removal, their secrets were exposed.

Most people are oblivious to the low self-esteem plaguing these young girls to the point of a mental illness. What many people also remain ignorant to is the reality of human trafficking occurring in the heart of San Diego and other major cities in our nation, low self-esteem preying young girls to the crafty, deceitful pimps forcing innocent young girls into prostitution. Thus, these undertones of trafficking worked their way into my piece, attempting to tell the story of the destructive patterns of low self-esteem that are taking the dignity and hope from the girls in our society.

Unbeknownst to me, brushing teeth has the potential to increase social awareness. Picking up my toothbrush suddenly seems like I am picking up a weapon, and this mundane morning routine suddenly reminds me of the plight of other girls my age. Little did I know, this simple act of brushing my teeth possesses the capacity to rid me of my ignorance and apathy.

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