The New York Times: “A Little Imperfection for That Smile?”

There’s an odd trend catching on in Japan, whereby women are intentionally creating a “fanged” or “snaggletooth” look for themselves, referred to in Japan as “yaeba.”

Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor in Pace’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and author of “Feminism, Inc. – Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture,” comments in Sunday’s New York Times as to why Japanese women are paying for “imperfections” deemed attractive — the kinds of tooth issues a lot of Americans pay thousands to correct with braces.

In Japan, a new fashion has women paying to have their straight teeth purposefully disarranged.

A result of tooth-crowding commonly derided in the United States as “snaggleteeth” or “fangs,” the look is called “yaeba” in Japanese or “double tooth.” Japanese men are said to find this attractive: blogs are devoted to yaeba, celebrities display it proudly, and now some women are paying dentists to create it artificially by affixing plastic fronts to their real teeth.

Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University in Manhattan who has studied gender identity and beauty in consumer culture, noted in Sunday’s New York Times Style Section that such ever-shifting tastes often have one thing in common: a fixation with youth.

“The gapped tooth is sort of preorthodontic or early development, and the naturally occurring yaeba is because of delayed baby teeth, or a mouth that’s too small,” she said. “It’s this kind of emphasis on youth and the sexualization of young girls.”

The imperfect teeth phenomenon has its Western equivalents.  Lauren Hutton popularized it in the 1970s, but the gap has seen a comeback recently with popular models like Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger.

Falsely imperfect teeth aren’t easy for everyone to swallow, perhaps because for most people, imperfections come naturally but don’t score multimillion-dollar contracts. (According to a Forbes report in May, Ms. Stone had earned $4.5 million in the preceding 12 months.) Dr. Zaslow suggested that contrived imperfections like yaeba teeth have nothing to do with imperfection. “It’s not based in self-acceptance,” she said.

In other words, it’s as phony as Botox. “It’s still women changing their appearance primarily for men,” Dr. Zaslow said.

1 thought on “The New York Times: “A Little Imperfection for That Smile?””

  1. I think this just may be one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard. I was almost tempted to go and look for some pictures but decided just having read about it was enough for me.

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