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Thursday
Sep092010

Fashion Discovers Gapped Teeth, Will Likely Get Over It In A Few Weeks

Essence Magazine founder Susan L. TaylorOoo! Look! My mouth is in style!

From The Wall Street Journal:

At model casting calls for New York's fashion week, which begins today, one of the most coveted attributes is an affront to modern orthodontics: gapped teeth.

The look is a bold departure from recent standards of idealized beauty that have rewarded curvaceous and perfect-smile models, such as Doutzen Kroes and Miranda Kerr, with high-profile ad campaigns.

Instead of perfection, designers now want what casting directors call "characters."

Now, before my fellow gapped-tooth brothers and sisters get too excited. Or start chirping about how in certain parts of Africa gapped-teeth are like the it-sexy thang to have, let's pay attention to who is being prized for their not-so-atypical mouths.

Psst. It's not you, Condoleeza Rice and Essence founder Susan L. Taylor!

More after the jump.

Every now and then, for whatever reason, the normally banal setters of trend and taste decide something that is pretty ordinary among one set of people is the hot new in body part to have among another. Like skinny models who also happen to have boobs that get labeled as "curvy." Or a sudden interest in large posteriors like the J. Lo butt craze of the 90s and the Kim Kardashian butt excitement of the now. It doesn't really matter that among black people round, bouncy rear-ends are so common that those who don't have an ass and also happen to be black feel like they have some kind of deformity. (Ask my oldest sister or comedian Aisha Tyler. The latter wrote a song about it.) Other people don't love, worship, covet the booty with such reverence, hence -- it's a fetish to a lot of Americans (mostly white people) rather than an everyday, regular "I think bow legs are cute" thing.

So, it's not like pretty gapped-tooth black women are getting snatched up off the street left and right and awarded lucrative modeling contracts. Hahahaha. God no. It's just the usual trend of everything that black women have in abundance somehow magically looks better on non-black women and becomes some bizarre "exotic other" fetish. Black woman with a big butt? Tacky. Kim K.'s ass? Something worth endless speculation and fashion spreads. Black woman with curly hair? Someone tries to attack you with a pressing comb. That "Felicity" chick's ringlets? She was like Samson. When she cut her hair, she stopped getting work. Black women who naturally tan year-round in a billion different shades from light bright to obsidian? Soooo boring. Orange fake bake on every Hollywood actress? HOT! Big thick lips on you? Grody. Angelina Jolie? Where's those millions of dollars I had lying around to just give to beautiful people? And now the gapped-tooth. Something that is pretty ordinary and sometimes coveted among black people (Lord, the gross things that one Nigerian I met at Marvin said he wanted to do to me when he saw the slight gap in my front tooth ... *shudders*) is hot on fashion model Lara Stone ... just "meh," on you.

It's a classic case of ye olde "blackness without the burden" thing that your father keeps talking about whenever he sees Justin Timberlake sing "Rock Your Body." Everything beautiful about black women is so much better once you remove that slavery taint.

Based on what people claim to find unique and attractive, you'd think this woman would be the most well-known and worshipped chick in the history of lookism:

If you get stuck on this photo and never finish the rest of my rant, I understand.But hahahaha ... nah, kid. Slow your roll. In the mainstream world, Pam Grier is a sometimes thing. Nobody wants you pretty, big butt, curly-headed, gapped-tooth, brown-skinned, thick-lipped women showing up all the time, every damn day, being pretty and curly-headed and gapped-tooth and brown and thick-lipped!

Except for ... half the population of St. Louis, Mo., and nearly all of Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C. And large patches of New York and Chicago. And most of Europe and Africa. And ... um ... everywhere.

My point is the fashion industry is dumb. What they decide looks good and what doesn't and on who is dumb. You basically have a handful of old, lookist crabby white people, starring Anna Wintour, deciding FOR THE WORLD what's attractive when the world has far more diverse tastes than Vogue takes in account. The world has love for both Bridget Bardot and Pam Grier. There's enough room in the pantheon of beauty for both Gisele and Carla Campbell. But you'd never know that because the five people in charge of telling you what's hot in the streets have a stick jammed so far up their malnourished rear that a regular ol', run-of-the-mill skinny blonde white model with a slight, "exotic imperfection" is a sign of "character" and "personality" as opposed to Lara Stone just being a very attractive woman who happens to have a gapped-tooth.

Having gapped-teeth does not doom people. Lots of folks have them and get along more than fine. Totally gorgeous Washington, D.C. fashionista and scenster Kristi Love works a gapped tooth and big hair on the everyday and people follow her wherever she goes!

I have a slight gap, big hair, a big butt, a permanent year-round tan and thick lips, yet, somehow, despite these alleged detriments that are all supposed to be fetishes and not things that everyday people find attractive, I can clean up on a good night on U Street any day of the week. I'm one of those terrible unloved black women who no one wants who is somehow magically loved and desired for all my black girl parts! So confusing!

Damn reality! Refusing to conform to Anna Wintour's ideals!

People may tell you that you're not in style, but those people never really knew what was in style to begin with. Beauty is more than Kate Moss. Beauty is a much more abundant and widespread thing across all ethnic groups and cultures than Madison Avenue would have you believe.

Everybody has their something.

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Reader Comments (31)

Spot on Danielle. This is exactly why I hate the fashion industry so much.

Well said/written.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpinster

Great post, fashionable and snobby one. Two thoughts came to mind. First, with markets for consumer goods exploding in Asia and South America (both FULL of brown and black people), the US fashion industry may soon find itself outmoded and irrelevant. Secondly, even though most design houses refuse to allow more than a token number of models of color on their runways, we still slavishly spend our hard-earned money to pop their tags, don't we?

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolinaGirl

This post is awesome! As fashion week begins in NYC today and clothing lust ensues, I think some of us need to be reminded of the tomfoolery that goes on in that industry. Myself included... I am a thick, thick-lipped, big behind toting black girl who likes to get all gussied up as much as the next girl. However, I can't play by their rules (Anna W. and nem)...I would truly end up on Intervention or something. Thanks oh snobby one! ;-)

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLola's Child

I guess it all boils down to exclusivity. Common does not seem to be coveted. Its the Fashion industry, the price of the clothing is a clear indicator that they are not trying to sell anything to the average American, African, Asian, etc. Its aimed at wealthy (white)people who want to stand out and above all that is ordinary, ie, be thinner, blonder, tanner, busty-er etc. Giselle doese not model for Super Ten. True, there are tons of apple-bottoms in the black community, unfortunately they often come in brown with an "apple" everything else thats why The J-Lo and Kim K. types are so coveted, they are relatively uncommon and almost impossible to attain without surgery and a personal trainer. Especially on a fair skinned woman.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

See, there you go again, being all logical. Dag, don't you know the US Fashion Industry is ILLOGICAL?

Oh, wait, you do know!

"My point is the fashion industry is dumb. What they decide looks good and what doesn't and on who is dumb. You basically have a handful of old, lookist crabby white people, starring Anna Wintour, deciding FOR THE WORLD what's attractive when the world has far more diverse tastes than Vogue takes in account. The world has love for both Bridget Bardot and Pam Grier. There's enough room in the pantheon of beauty for both Gisele and Carla Campbell."

But, so yeah. Like CarolinaGirl said above -- Anna Wintour & nem will soon enough "exclusivate" themselves out of business. (A new word -- exclusivate. Feel free to use it.)

I mean, check this out, a story in none other than the NYT the other day on the "hot" new haute designers -- all ASIAN. And that cute little Jason Wu snapped up FLOTUS whilst everybody else was sleeping. How much you wanna bet that these boys are polite to her face but laughing up their sleeves at skinny-ass Anna W the second she is out of range? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/fashion/05asians.html

Carry on....

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy A

So true! When I meet men of other races, cultures and ethnicities...they are practically knocking people down to get to these gap teeth, lol. I joke but seriously, so many people find gap teeth so attractive from other countries. I went to Jamaica and met this lady from London and all she could do was talk about how she wished she had gapped teeth like me and her sister, lol.

I can recall when my niece was young she was so upset about her gapped teeth, now she loves them, but back then she wanted them gone, lol. I said to her, do you think Aunt Stacey is pretty? She said yes. I said and you look like me so what are you? And since then she has really embraced her gapped teeth and her dark skin and her overall beauty. She is gorgeous though...but I digress, lol. My point is that so many of our children think they are ugly or want certain features to go away even when they are not ugly and those features are beautiful and it is because of the very thing you described in your post.

Excellent post as usual.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

will you marry me? We can be gap-toothed lesbians.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNunya_Bizness

Good article. I immediately thought of Danielle from season 6 of America's Next Top Model. She had a gap, and it didn't take away from her beauty. She felt pressured to close it by Tyra and her minions. She eventually gave in and had it close a bit.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoirsa

Oops, "closed a bit" not "close a bit"!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoirsa

Didn't Lauren Hutton do this in the '70s? Is this another case of what's old is new again? Or am I just showing my age?

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIncandescere

Anna Wintour and those other fashion people are so far removed from reality it's ridiculous. I'm sorry, but it's just clothing. They really need to stop smelling themselves so much. Fashion week? I give it a big YAWN.

Good post!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterViv

The only reason I wasn't screaming, "HELLS YES, PREACH IT SISTA" during the entirety of this article was because my roomate's around, and I didn't want to scare her (too much, she's used to me being crazy), but...YES. This is so devastatingly true, and absolutely nonsensical to me. It's pretty damned twisted that white America can appropriate the things that have made us beautiful for centuries and get credit for it, like they came up with it to begin with. Makes me so frustrated, thanks for articulating what I've felt for ages on this subject.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

in my central kentucky family, we value gap teeth because it leaves room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to grow in. my aunties and uncles had gaps that closed when they got to be in their twenties. mine remained, i didn't have wisdom teeth on top, just a couple on the bottom. i needed that bottom gap instead!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercocolamala

The gap tooth model that confuses me is Lara Stone. She's the hottest thing in the fashion industry,, besides looking tragic

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterI Am Your People

Everything But the Burden. Also known as "Black until the cops show up". Great post.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdewfish

@ Incandescere:

You are correct, Lauren Hutton did do this in the seventies. Also, Bo Derek jacked cornrows and beads in the 70's and white folks fell all over it. For a long time (TOO long...) cornrows with beads was called "the Bo Derek look". Nevermind that you could go to any black neighborhood and see little girls rocking that style long before Bo came along. Also, there were black women celebs who wore them for years, but not a word of praise was given to them.(Cicely Tyson comes to mind) So, white folks hijacking our style and all of a sudden acting like it's something "new" and "exotic" is old news. Yep, I'm showing my age too. I'm a proud card-carrying member of the Grown and Sexy Crew!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMommieDearest

Thanks for this. I love this blog.

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterafrotecha

Awesome post Danielle! Thanks!

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErika M

I don't need "The Skeleton Crew" to tell me that my gap is what's "In". Fashion is about a person's unique style, not what an elite few consider to be cool. The gap will always be in style!!!

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFunkystarkitty50

Wonderful post! The White world of fashion has been taking Black style and traits and been calling in new and edgy for ever. I have always found it funny that the big lips, round backsides, full hips, and honey brown skin tones that are mocked with disdain by whites are the same features white women are paying for at plastic surgery centers everywhere. But I've always been taught imitation is the best form of flattery.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC. Brown, R.N.

Awesome post! Too bad the braces closed the gap otherwise I'd have the "Big 5" ;-)

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotteZephyr

I am so weary of all of this. I find Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger to be extremely plain women, despite their 'so hot right now' status thanks to the gap in their front teeth, a facial feature typically thought to be unattractive unless it is in the mouth of a skinny, white, able bodied woman.
So, a feature that was typically thought to be unattractive is suddenly, radically elevated to the very heights of fashion, all thanks to the bearer (thin, white woman).
This only furthers my theory that the racist fashion industry will choose to scrape the very bottom of the barrel of white women and will praise and give adulation and attention to a gap toothed white woman with eyes on either side of her head before they will even deign to look in the direction of us yellow, brown and black woman.

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlia

AMEN. I think I love you, this post is just awesome! I was so frustrated nobody talks about that, it relieves me! Here in France it is even worth! Black people are...NOBODY!
(And I am gapped teeth too ^^)

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLa Lionne

Funny that you that you consider this fad a "classic case of ye olde "blackness without the burden" " because in "ye olde" late middle ages Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of the gap-toothed wife of Bath and alluded to the popular folklore of the day regarding the supposed lustfullness of gap-toothed women. The similarities of the prejudices directed at gap toothed medieval maidens and modern day black women are, I would fairly presume, entirely coincidental (though some theorist will concoct a connection). As for Anna Wintour's ideals, she should be as irrevelent to you as you are to her (an undeniable truth) or, even better, as irrelevent as her and fashionista mob's disregard for the most worshipful qualities of Pam Grier are to us Pam Grier worshippers. Many thanks for picture.

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterscribblescribe

Awesome, funny, and true. My sister in law has gapped teeth and she's beautiful. My husband loves straight white teeth but if you have a space between those two, watch out! "Blackness without burden," I never heard that phrase before but I want to steal it. It explains so much.

September 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrooklynShoeBabe
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