Anyone who has seen even a second of reality television this side of the millennium will be aware that straight, whitened teeth are at the heart of society's idea of a perfect smile.
We've got a hell of a long way to go if we want to dismantle the layers of beauty standards. Gucci are making an effort, at least, with their latest campaign.
The luxury brand are the first major company to champion different kinds of teeth in its latest lipstick campaign, though not the first to advocate gap-toothed grins.
Ads need to go much further to represent the people who they sell the actual goods to. The smile is a milestone, undoubtedly, yet the image has made some people online uncomfortable.
The 'Rouge à Lèvres Satin' collection from a new Gucci Beauty line was ideated by the brilliant Alessandro Michele, who subverts the norms though the lens of imperfection.
The shoot promotes the relaunched line, and has garnered media coverage through it's attempt to push the public to accept the polarising nature of imperfect teeth.
"For the bold, the bright and the beautiful," is the tag-line on the image, one of a series of close-ups shot by Martin Parr. The campaign features models Mae Lapres , Achok Majak and Ellia Sophia alongside Surfbort frontwoman Dani Miller.
Society has become far too adapted to seeing only whitened, straight teeth on every single advert on television or in magazines. Instagram is one of the worst culprits, as well as reality television stars.
The toothy smiles depict small and straight-bottomed teeth, to angular and gapped dental work.
Miller's teeth are the most eye-catching in the adverts, as she is missing lateral incisors, yet the photo is the most liked of the series on the social media site.
Miller, the model featured in the shoot, wrote on her Instagram page; "Growing up you go through an evolution of overcoming insecurity’s and healing from being bullied or the intense pressures of fitting in the perfect cookie cutter traditional style of beauty."
"A celebration for the beautiful freaks shedding even more of my insecurity’s and doubts, there is space for everyone to be themselves even in the beauty and fashion world! Hope it inspires everyone especially the youth to love their quirks even more and feel beautiful and powerful with their true self! Hate and exclusion is so washed out."
The genius creative director of Gucci , Alessandro Michele, commented on the campaign,
“The idea is to create a representation that is close to reality with a humanized point of view, however seemingly strange. But the strangeness is human so it’s beautiful.” Some of the responses to the lipstick images have been outright offensive.
This ad is ridiculous. Those teeth DO NOT make that lipstick appealing on any level!!
— (@Ginger06823527) May 4, 2019
While Michele doesn't care about normative ideas of perfection, and who insults the campaign, it's clear that some facets of society just aren't ready for 'strange' beauty. Unsurprising, but disappointing.
The Instagram comments don't exactly inspire confidence in society's acceptance of women in their natural state. One user, @isiliciouz, "This will definitely not motivate anyone to buy this f*cking lipstick." Ouch.
Another person commented on the brand’s post, “This is not Gucci at all. Turning a true Italian luxury brand into joke. This is truly disappointing and very depressing.” I fail to see how not having expensive dental work that few can afford as a joke, but whatever.
There were some highly positive responses however, from social media users who felt embarrassed by their teeth and insecure about their image.
"Thank you, I was also born without my adult lateral incisors and always felt so insecure and ashamed of smiling before I had my surgery. I wish I had seen this ad when I was younger, it’s beautiful and 16 year old me is smiling."
Many people who weren't blessed with hereditary perfect dental work came forward to share their joy at being represented, with somebody commenting:
“I’ve dealt with the insecurity and shame of my missing lateral incisors all of my life. There is something truly dehumanizing about feeling like you’re not allowed to smile or talk too excitedly out of shame. This is beautiful.”
As someone who had braces for three, painful years, as well as four teeth wrenched out in order to straighten my smile, it was a lot of money and discomfort. Seeing that beauty isn't just for a small number of lucky people is inspiring.
Filtered Instagram pictures and reality television have led to the popularity of veneers in our culture. We're subconsciously lectured that teeth have to be straight and white to be beautiful, but this only came about as a result of brand marketing.
We're glad the series is sparking a conversation, if nothing else. Some people just worship the status quo, and the elitist snobbery of narrow-minded beauty. That's their problem.
Georgia May Jagger reignited the talk of gap-toothed beauty, following in Madonna's heeled footsteps after she first burst onto the scene. The more diversity and representation that these upper-class brands practice, the better.
Feature image credit: ZIG