For reasons that may not seem obvious to you, but will reveal themselves over the course of this column if you dare to continue reading, and I hope you do please, I am one of the probably seven people on earth to subscribe to a 14-day free trial of the Criterion Channel with the specific goal of streaming the 1987 Les Blank documentary Gap-Toothed Women.
In it, documentary filmmaker Blank interviews women with diastemas, the dental term for a gap between two teeth; it’s typically used to describe the front ones. The diastema has its etymology in the Greek word for “the space between,” and historically the eye-catching dental trait shows up in people with a lot of verve and lust for life, like the Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales, a legendary diastamess, and also Elijah Wood. “I really feel stupid saying this,” one woman says in the documentary, “but gap-toothed women are supposed to be sexier.”
The underlying objective of the documentary is to deconstruct the onerous beauty standards women are held to that dictates we must all have perfectly straight teeth — but it is also a direct reminder of a forgotten reality: when it comes to personal style, your teeth are the sexiest fashion statement of all.
Over the past few months, many people have written about how confusing it is to dress post-pandemic. Are we throwing away our sweatpants? Discarding our bras? Wearing several pairs of shoes at once? Low-rise jeans? High-rise tops? Newborn onesies but for adults? Spaghetti strap tanks constructed from real boiled spaghetti? You show up to the bar, make it through the door, and realize oh no, you’re actually naked. How did this happen? After spending too much time behind closed doors with only our pets, roommates, and girlfriends to see us, it is no surprise that we can no longer dress ourselves.
I am here from the future and the past and the present to remind you that actually your teeth are all you need. For your entire life, not counting a few early years where we shed them in humankind’s macabre, disgusting ritual, your teeth have been your most essential fashion accessory. Those 32 pieces of off-white dentine and enamel, stacked next to each other like fans at a baseball game, flashed in times of both mirth and anger? You should never — and in fact can’t — go to a party without them.
It is often said that eyes are the window to the soul but in fact, it is teeth that are the window to the mouth, which if you think about it, is a faster entryway to a soul if you believe that a soul is hiding somewhere inside your mortal frame. If you take a close look at someone’s teeth, you can learn a lot about them. Tom Cruise has one tooth that is in the direct center of his mouth, which indicates that he’s a full-on freak. Seal, Lauren Hutton, Niecey Nash, Georgia May Jagger, and so many famous models, however, all have glorious gaps between their central incisors.
One of the primary reasons that you should never trust a celebrity is that, more often than not, their teeth are not even real. If I have to spend even one minute thinking about how celebrity teeth are just whittled down little spikes that are capped with fake teeth on top of those teeth, I have no choice but to throw up and die.
It’s true that people are often insecure about their teeth — I know because I used to be, too. I recently measured the gap between my two front teeth and found that is .25 centimeters wide. Holy shit. If I wasn’t afraid of catching a disease, I could theoretically fit the width of two whole credit cards between my front teeth, but I wouldn't get any credit card points, so I won’t. In high school, I had clear braces to close this big gap, but after refusing to wear a retainer, my gap opened again. Now my mouth is basically a useless ATM with no financial rewards, and sometimes you can hear a faint whistle when I talk. I hated my teeth for a long time until I realized I found other people’s teeth cool and hot. Did this mean that my teeth were cool and hot, too?
The answer is emphatically yes. If you’ve ever seen someone having an amazing, life-affirming time, their mouth is usually wide open in laughter, yelling at the top of their lungs with joy. Unlike gross men, I am not heckling you with directives to smile, sweetie — I don’t care if you use your teeth to smile. You can use your teeth to gnash and shout, or noisily chomp on a steak or a boiled egg. As long as you don’t spend one more second thinking about what outfit to put on tonight, which silky scarf to drape, how to style that blazer, if you can wear jeans over slacks and shoes on your hands — we’ll all figure that out in due time. For now, all that matters is those sexy fangs. Come on now, let’s see ‘em.