Ooo! 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!
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:
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.