There’s a huge irony in the case of gap teeth smiles when it comes to beauty standards in America versus those in other parts of the world.
Here in the States the perfect smile is considered one that unveils two front teeth that are perfectly aligned without a slither of space in between. You may have heard by now that in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria where my parents are from, a gap is considered a thing of beauty. My parents, who both had gaps (my mom was forced to close her after suffering injuries from a car accident) often told my sister and me that people in Nigeria actually went to the length of having a gap cut into their teeth. In parts of South Africa people, especially men, are removing their two front teeth entirely to adhere to a trend known as “passion gap.”
But things are changing stateside among women who are proud of their diastematic beauty. Orange is the New Black star, Uzo Aduba shared her personal story about this very thing and how she came to terms with having a gap. But nothing is more amazing than seeing everyday women and up-and-coming models on Instagram proudly flaunting theirs with hashtags like, #GapTeeth, #GapTeethGang, #GapTeethDontCare, and #GapTeethSmile. Here are a few of the beauties who stand out.
“I love my gap because it’s a family trait. Most of my family shares the same smile. So when I see my smile it reminds me of the love of my closest kin.”–Samantha Everette
Growing up I hated my gap, it wasn’t until recently that I became comfortable and accepting of it. I never saw it as a physical trait of beauty, especially in a society where “perfect” straight teeth are what is considered to be beautiful. I spent a lot of my years smiling without showing my teeth, that it has become so natural for me to do that when taking pictures. The love for my gap came with growth, age and understanding of who I am and my own worth. It has help me build a greater sense of self confidence and it’s apart of what makes me unique. I’m happy I can see the beauty in it now!–Shannon C.
“Growing up I never noticed it really which probably sounds weird; how come I never noticed this gap when it’s something so distinct. It never really bothered me until I got older but my mum always told me how unique it was and I should be proud of being different. I get both bad and good reactions towards it, so [I have] a love and hate relationship with my gap. I’ve always wanted to stand out from the crowd and my gap does that, so I guess that’s a perk. I guess the thing I hate about it, is that it’s not perfect because in society if you are seen as different or imperfect you are shunned.”–Michelle Turner
“When I was a teen, I was teased constantly about my gap, so naturally I hated it! As I grew older, I learned to embrace every part of me because it is what makes me stand apart from everyone else. I’ve also learned over the years that the aesthetics of a person,is not what defines their character. As corny as it may sound, it is the inside that matters and when you exude confidence, people tend to not notice the “flaws” that you believe you have.”–Ashley LeBlanc
“Growing up, I actually was not in love with my gap. I would often take tissue and fill the gap to see how it would look. In retrospect, I think I wanted to do so much to be normal – I was overweight with braids and a gap and all of the “popular” girls had straight teeth and silky perms. If I could go back and tell myself that my gap was beautiful and unique, I would!”–Kelly Augustine