Gaptoothed women are in vogue. Gaptoothed models were all over last week’s runways at Paris Fashion Week. Instead of fixing their teeth, some of Hollywood’s freshest faces, like Anna Paquin and Elizabeth Moss, proudly sport a midline diastema. And, last month, on “America’s Next Top Model,” host Tyra Banks sent a 22-year-old contestant from Boise, Idaho, to the dentist to widen her gap.
Culturally, there has always been a mystique about diastematic women. In Ghana, Namibia, and Nigeria, a gap in women’s teeth is a sign of beauty and fertility, says Bernice Agyekwena, a Ghanaian journalist and Gates Fellow of African Agriculture at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
“Some women even go to the extent of creating an artificial gap in their teeth because they want to meet the traditional standards set for African beauty,” she says.
Some fashion and beauty commentators believe our new interest in the diastema represents a backlash against unattainable beauty standards and an obsession with perfection.
“I think for so long the look was cookie-cutter beauty, and it doesn’t stand out,” Heather Muir, beauty news editor for Allure magazine in New York, said. “We’re shifting to a more quirky beauty, and I think that includes women who have very fair skin, many freckles, or frizzy, big hair.”
Two gaptoothed models in particular, Jac Jagaciak and Lindsey Wixson, caught Allure magazine editors’ eyes on the Paris runways, Muir says. She also calls attention to recent ads by Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and Miu Miu. All feature models with gap teeth.
“This could be a confidence booster to a lot of girls out there who are 12 or 13 and mortified because they have a gap,” she says. “Now’s the time to let whatever is interesting about your look shine through. Embrace it.”
“From a clinical standpoint, there’s no advantage to closing it,” says Tim Patel, a Walnut Creek dentist and assistant clinical professor at UCSF’s School of Dentistry. If the gap is small, Patel may suggest fixing it to avoid periodontal issues down the line. Food can get stuck in there, after all.
Otherwise, he’s OK with it. “Obviously, I like to see perfectly straight teeth with no diastema,” he says. “But if patients like it, I certainly don’t try to encourage them to change it. By and large, it’s an aesthetic issue.
FAMOUS GAP-TOOTHED WOMEN
- Model Jessica Hart
- Lauren Hutton
- Anna Paquin
- Condoleezza Rice
- Georgia Jagger
- Elisabeth Moss
- Laura San Giacomo
- Natalie Cole
- Vanessa Paradis