Yaeba: Japan’s toothy trend

Dentists are making a mint on fashionably crowded or child-like teeth

Biting mad


Japanese women are paying dentists to make their smiles more crowded, even canine, in a quest to appear more childlike, more fashionable and to appeal to men. The trend, known as yaeba (Japanese for double-toothed), is gushed about on blogs and television—and has become a revenue stream for dentists who, for $400, affix temporary plastic veneers on incisors to achieve the snaggle-toothed look.

Michelle Phan, a Vietnamese-American blogger, told the New York Times that in Japan, “crooked teeth are actually endearing,” and that imperfection makes a woman more approachable to men. Others denounce yaeba, which can also impart a fanged look in perfect sync with Twilight mania, as a ghoulish expression of a culture preoccupied with the sexualization of young girls.

Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor at Pace University in New York City who studies beauty in consumer culture, notes that yaeba mimics the look of delayed baby teeth, or a mouth that’s too small: “It’s this kind of emphasis on youth and the sexualization of young girls.” Meanwhile, in Japan, the first snaggle-toothed pop group, TYB48, featuring three “yaeba girls,” has just released its first single: It’s Fine If I Bite You?

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