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You don’t have to look too hard to see a popular image of a famous person with a gap-toothed smile, because rocking a natural diastema is gaining popularity. From Live! with Kelly and Michael’s own Michael Strahan and Coldplay’s Chris Martin to Madonna and Brigitte Bardot, the gap tooth has made its presence known and appreciated for years.
But now the look is even gaining popularity on the runway and the sidewalk.
A quick Google image search of “gap” will autocomplete to “gap tooth model” and turn up several articles praising the space between the maxillary incisors and the Calvin Klein, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret models who have one. “Fashion goes for gap teeth and attitude as quirky becomes the new beautiful,” The Guardian published in 2013, three years after Tyra Banks sent a contestant on America’s Next Top Model to the dentist to have the gap in her teeth widened.
While most gaps are treated with orthodontics, more people are now fashionably wearing their authentically flawed smiles. Their willingness to wear a cosmetically imperfect smile has been met recently with admiration from audiences in the beauty industry, and it’s no surprise, really.
Fashion and beauty always has to have a flaw, that quirky little thing that, instead of decreasing the value of the total package, makes it that much more appealing. (Think Cindy Crawford’s highly photographed mole.)
Another possible factor for the recent popularity is the body positivity movement that has taken off in recent years. Body positivity started with a push not only to accept but also praise women of all sizes, not just those that fit the standard.
Of course, the standard is different for a runway model than it is for a pop star, but perhaps that also served to help the body positivity movement. “Let’s not redefine the standard,” the pushback said. “Let’s eliminate one altogether.”
It’s no surprise then, to see that the gap-tooth smiles that helped to define certain models and actresses (Georgia May Jagger, Lara Stone and Lauren Hutton, just to name a few), are back in vogue.
It’s less likely a result of body positivity and more about a trend, said one fashion expert.
“I feel like it could just be another phase, another delusion of the fashion industry,” said Justice Kwesi Kwarteng, Founder of Colorado Fashion Week. “It’s also a result of the world becoming more connected. I think through technology we have the ability to explore different cultures, and it makes people a little more receptive of other standards of beauty.”
As cosmetic surgery has gained popularity in the United States and fewer unique smiles are seen, more people are opting out of perfecting every part of their appearance, choosing instead to stand out the most authentic way possible: by not trying so hard.
Or, at least, by looking like they’re not trying so hard.