It’s a “Yaeba” dabba DO: Cosmetic Trends in Japan

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Orthodontia and the pursuit of correcting crooked choppers is big business here in the US and Western cultures. While certainly used for reasons other than aesthetics, the primary purpose for seeing an orthodontist is to correct a misaligned mouth.

Yaeba: Another way to infantilize women and sexualize child-like appearances.

Historically, a straight smile was a status symbol, implying that those bearing braces or corrective devices came from families of financial means.The actual word “orthodontia” comes from the Greek word orthos, meaning “straight” or “proper” or “perfect” and odus from “tooth.”

In Japan, dental beauty trends are quite different, where a popular look called Yaeba is desirable. Yaeba means “double tooth” in Japanese and describes a sort of “fang effect” where teeth are crowded to the point of pushing the incisors into a prominent display in the mouth. A multitude of dental “salons” in Japan offer cosmetic procedures by which dentists actually implant artificial teeth to induce overcrowding, forcing the incisors into a more prominent place in the mouth or adhering plastic covers to the tooth to lengthen and sharpen it.

 

The process of crowding the teeth to create this desired look.

This vampire look is cited as attractive and desirable and celebrated by Japanese culture. Celebrities showcase this look and women endure pricey procedures to achieve it. Creating these intentional imperfections is meant to make a woman appear more endearing and approachable.

Naturally, Yaeba occurs in young children and babies whose teeth have not fully developed and who have small mouths. While Western trends eschew overcrowding and aim for picket-fence, pearly whites, our society also idealizes youthfulness. These intentional imperfections are really the same beast dressed in a different outfit: a way to infantilize women and sexualize child-like appearances.

I think it is important to draw the parallel that focuses on infantilizing women, idealizing innocence, and pushing procedures that aim for a more youthful appearance, but I also believe there is a bigger, more basic issue at hand.

I also acknowledge that my own cultural context puts me at a disadvantage in terms of being able to objectively evaluate this trend. It is easy to magnify differences in cultural definitions of beauty. While I appreciate and am fascinated by the measures of attractiveness and standards of beauty in other countries, one thing remains glaringly obvious: Everywhere, women are in the business of changing our bodies and appearance to fit some ideal. This is a transnational epidemic.

Cosmetic procedures that aim to create Yaeba are not too different from breast augmentation, plastic surgery, or liposuction. It is still attempts to alter one’s natural self, subjecting the body to risky and costly cosmetic procedures in the pursuit of perfection, or in this case, imperfection.

 ~ My post originally posted at About.Face.org: The “Yaeba” trend in Japan is not so different from American Cosmetic Trends

About Ms. Mettle

I am many things. Runner, yoga enthusiast, nonconformist, bookworm, lover of learning, blogger & self-proclaimed writer, traveling fool & body image, media literacy and feminist issues advocate. I have a penchant for philosophical musings, cultural commentary and white wines. I enjoy stand-up comedy and profanity-laced television series. I enjoy watching said series by season in rapid succession. Committed to personal growth, unabashed authenticity and empowerment, I encourage critical thinking of mainstream media messages and popular culture and believe in questioning our society’s definitions of gender, sexuality and power. I eschew stereotypes, rail against the limited notions/definitions of beauty, the destructive idealization of thinness and the marketing of packaged perfectionism that leave women feeling inadequate and shameful about their bodies and themselves. I believe in empowering and educating our youth on harmful media messages that call them to equate their self-worth with appearance and body size and equipping them with the tools that support healthy self esteem, positive body image and confidence. I enjoy cocktails and quality conversation, spending time with my soulmates, pithy proclamations, positive precepts and witty wisdom. Additionally, I adore alliteration (as if not already evident). I have an affinity for gutsy gals & guys, brazen broads and sanguine strangers. I work to encourage my insatiable aptitude for education. I am a feminist, word nerd, reading addict and prefer my literature like my coffee, dark and rich. I have indescribable gratitude for all of the unwavering support and incredible individuals that make my life a resplendent one. These relationships are my currency. Reformed pessimist/chronic cynic, perpetually pursuing positivity, encouraging self acceptance, supersizing my dreams and learning to love life.

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