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article imageWhy Japanese women are caught in 'yaeba' fang-teeth beauty trend

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 1, 2013 in Lifestyle
Tokyo - In the West fang-like teeth are associated with vampires and canine animals, but in Japan, fang-like teeth are the fashion trend among women. Japanese gentlemen are being treated to sexy, crooked, fang-like or "snaggleteeth" smiles by young ladies.
The fashion craze is called "yaeba," and it involves a lady reshaping her pair of canine teeth, making them look pointed or "fang-like."
Japanese men love the "yaeba" smile, and it explains why the trend which, according to The New York Times, first became noticeable in 2011, has not only persisted, but is becoming even more popular in recent times.
The Daily Mail reports that according to Japanese fashion trends aficionados, Japanese men find the "imperfection" of young ladies' "snaggleteeth" smile sexually attractive because of its endearing "childlike" quality. Women who have undergone the cosmetic procedure for crowded-looking fang-toothed smiles, win the approval of men because men find them more approachable than women with perfect "picket-fence teeth."
Japanase women caught in the fang-tooth craze are forming long queues at dental clinics all over the country. A woman may acquire from her dentist either temporary or permanent artificial canines.
A popular procedure by Tokyo dentists is one that bequeaths the coveted "yaeba" looks by artificial attachments to the teeth. The procedure offers the option of temporary and permanent attachments. The permanent attachment involves the use of adhesive artificial canine teeth called "tsuke yaeba."
According to Japan Today, the Japanese expression "yaeba," literally means "layered" or "double" tooth, an effect produced naturally in some individuals whose molars crowd the back spaces, pushing out the canines, and giving a fang-like appearance.
The cosmetic procedure at dental clinics is designed to simulate this natural effect.
From the perspective of a Western observer, the craze for the "yaeba" look is paradoxical because Westerners who have the natural feature pay for surgical procedures to have their teeth straightened for improved aesthetics. But in Japan, men find the smile of a woman with "yaeba" imperfection attractive, due to a cultural preference for "childlike" looks in women.
'Child-like' looking women?
The New York Times reported that Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University in Manhattan, who carried out studies on gender identity and beauty noted that in spite of ever changing concepts of beauty the common denominator is "a fixation with youth."
He said: "The gapped tooth is sort of preorthodontic or early development, and the naturally occurring yaeba is because 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."
National celebrity figures have helped to promote the "tsuke yaeba" cosmetic looks in Japanese youth culture. Japan Today notes that "Thanks to the popularity of pop-idol group AKB48′s Tomomi Itano and other celebrities sporting a pair of rogue chompers of their own, 'yaeba' has turned into a cosmetic craze in recent years, with Japanese women of all ages flocking to dental clinics to have temporary or permanent artificial canines, called 'tsuke-yaeba,' glued to their teeth."
A girl group calls itself tsuke-yaeba48 or TYB48. According to Japan Today, a dental clinic owner, Taro Masuoka, conceived the idea of branding the girls after the fashion trend. Japan Today writes: ".. the world’s first snaggletooth girl group, TYB48 (tsuke-yaeba48)... held their debut concert in Akihabara, Tokyo, last April. TYB48 was actually formed by another dental clinic offering 'tsuke-yaeba.'"
Taro Masuoka told Japan Today: "'Yaeba’ give girls an impish cuteness. It’s a sense of beauty unique to the Japanese, but ‘yaeba’ can be an attractive feature on women in their teens and twenties." He added: "A lot of my patients are fashion-conscious and very cute. I wanted to find some way to take advantage of this, so I formed TYB48."
While Japanese doctors are smiling to their banks charging up to $390 to fix trendy clients with "tsuke yaeba" attachments, Masuoka offers a discount on the procedure for middle school and high school students; and when she decides she has had enough of the "yaeba" looks, a girl may pay a dentist the same price as she was charged for it to have it removed.
While Westerners may think the trend is weird or even ugly, The New York Times notes for instruction that the "imperfect-teeth" beauty concept has equivalents in Western culture:
In an episode of the reality show "America’s Top Model" last year, the host and model Tyra Banks encouraged one contestant to have the gap between her two front teeth widened.
"Make it as big as you want it."
As the writers at the celebrity and fashion blog Jezebel noted at the time, Ms. Banks had instructed a model in a previous season to minimize her gap — presumably when gapped teeth weren't so in fashion.
The gap craze has come and gone several times over the years (Lauren Hutton popularized it in the 1970s), but has seen a comeback recently with popular models like Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger.
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