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January 18, 2008

First Impressions: What Kind Do You Make?

lydia hamel smiling with braces

Lydia Hamel

Photo Credit: Amanda Friedman

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Dr. Amy Wechsler, MC's resident dermatologist and psychiatrist, analyzes 22-year-old Lydia Hamel, from Victoria, BC.

AW: Her long, unstyled hair says that she is relatively low-maintenance.
LH: I haven't cut it in two years. I'm lazy when it comes to hair. Wash 'n' wear!

AW: Wearing braces at her age shows that she's making a big effort to improve her appearance.
LH: I moved around so much when I was younger that I didn't have one regular orthodontist. Now that I'm settled, I'm finally able to have braces.

AW: There's a crease in her brow — she's young to have wrinkles. This could be an expression she commonly makes.
LH: I tend to make this face a lot when I'm self-conscious.

AW: Her upward stare is goofy. She seems to be avoiding eye contact.
LH: I was a little nervous with so many people around taking this photo, so I looked away.

Following her initial take, Wechsler digs deeper.

AW: Did your teeth bother you a lot before you got braces?
LH: Yes, but it was more comfort-related than aesthetic. My teeth rounded inward and rubbed my tongue.

AW: Is it hard having braces as an adult?
LH: At first it was. People didn't take me seriously because they thought I was much younger. After having braces for a year, you just have to see the humor in it.

AW: You should feel good about making the effort to focus on yourself. And you have a cute smile! Has having braces changed the way you present yourself?
LH: I definitely don't like to smile as widely as I once did. I don't feel as pretty.

AW: What about the mole above your lip — do you mind it?
LH: I've always loved it. It reminds me of Marilyn Monroe.

AW: You say you make the expression in the picture a lot. When your face is relaxed, is there still a crease in your brow?
LH: I don't think so. Should I be careful about that?

AW: If you overuse certain muscles, they will "hypertrophy" over time. The muscles constantly pull on the skin, causing wrinkles and lines.
LH: I also tend to blush a lot. Is there a way to stop that?

AW: Blushing is totally situational. Some people flush when it's cold or they drink a hot beverage. It's helpful to figure out what your triggers are and see if you can avoid them. Do you know yours?
LH: I blush when I get a lot of attention, if someone flatters me, or if I'm embarrassed.

AW: Being featured in this story will be a great test of your confidence then!

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