When gap-toothed smiles first became a real trend, nearly five years ago, it seemed like another flash-in-the-pan trend that would be “over” before the ink dried on the magazine, but it turns out that it’s still going strong. Although there have always been a few prominent gap-toothed personalities–and I’ll talk about them–never has society so embraced what is otherwise considered a serious aesthetic defect. So why is this such a big thing right now?
A gap-toothed smile has a certain sensuality. This is not a new association, either. When Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in the 14th century, he gave the Wife of Bath a gap-toothed smile because it was symbolic of sensuality. As sensuality and sexuality have become more important to our society, we have increasingly embraced this deep-seated association.
For example, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brigitte Bardot helped touch off the sexual revolution with her pouty-lipped and gap-toothed smile. Like her disheveled hair and thrown-together outfits, Bardot’s gap-toothed smile connoted an earthy, unrestricted, and primal sexual nature.
This was also true of Madonna in the 1980s, who shocked Baby Boomers with the revelation that their sexual revolution would be repeated and perhaps expanded upon by their own children. Madonna’s sexuality was more artistic and crafted, but it likely also drew from her sensually gap-toothed smile.
These days, everyone is tripping over themselves to try to find the next way to make waves in our post-sexual revolution world, so sensuality is de rigeur for models, and as a result gap-toothed smiles are popular as one way to establish this.
Another important aspect of the surge in popularity of gap-toothed models is that it sets them apart for an audience that is becoming increasingly leery and tired of too-perfect bodies. Models threaten to become a parade of operated-on bodies and smiles, and those that are not operated on in real life get the digital scalpel before publishing. On the other hand, gap-toothed models flaunt their flaws, which helps them come across as human.
In our social-media world, people also like to feel like they can count celebrities among their personal circle, and the humanity of a gap-toothed model can make them more reachable.
It would be naive to think that this trend hasn’t been embraced and promoted by the models themselves, along with their agents, who want to keep their clients in steady work and steadily in the public eye. Models are trying to use this differentiator to make themselves stand out, which is essential to creating and maintaining a brand identity.
This isn’t just something that models do. New York Giants’ Michael Strahan has embraced the identity of his gap-toothed smile. Of course his distinctive smile is essential to his new career as a talk show host, but Strahan also embraced his iconic smile as part of his identity as an NFL player, saying it made him look more tough, which is part of the reason why he wants his smile on his bust in the NFL Hall of Fame.
How Long Can It Last?
Any social trend is bound to play itself out eventually, and it seems likely that 2014 may be the year for the gap-toothed smile to go away. It is losing its strength as a differentiator, with models now not being able to stand apart with this characteristic–they can at best stand as part of a group. Once it loses its branding power, we can expect this trend to fade out and be replaced by something else.
If a smile with a gap isn’t for you, whether it’s a space between your front teeth, or perhaps a missing tooth, we can help. Please call B & D Dental Excellence 845-627-7645 to schedule an appointment at our Rockland County office today.