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21 June 2011

Brace Yourself

It is now quite common to see adults wearing dental braces, especially in Jakarta where many a smile is adorned with a row of metal.

In a developing country like Indonesia - whose economy collapsed after the Asian currency crisis of 1998 - orthodontic services were in short (or no) supply until recently and the rich would have sent their children overseas for braces. As they still do for education.

Even today, some middle class families find it hard to afford orthodontists and their children have to go without.

Luckily Indonesians have pretty good dental hygeine and nice teeth, especially compared with the rest of Asia.

... back to last Saturday night.

Arief is the boyfriend of someone I know. I have only met him a few times but last Saturday I noticed his braces had been removed and mentioned it to him. He smiled back through a row of perfect white teeth.

"Wow - congratulations." I said.

At that point Matt whispered to me that these braces were not for straightening his teeth; that they were for cosmetic reasons only. Apparently this trend is spreading quicker than a hooker on a fixed price.

So I asked him:

"Did you actually need braces for your teeth?"

-- "No. They were accessories."

"Accessories? REALLY ...?"

-- "Yes really."

"Why"

-- "Accessories. Fashion."

"How long did you have them?"

-- "6 months"

So here's the thing.

In Bandung (a couple of hours south of Jakarta) it has become fahionable to wear dental braces. These are real dental braces, applied by an orthodontist but without any tightening bands.

To most people in Indonesia braces are an unattainable luxury and it seems that in Bandung it still curries social status.

It's fashion, Jim, but not as we know it.

It may sound strange but judge ye not: there are many worse crimes being committed in the name of fashion. Like selling your kidney for an iPad 2. Or carrying a little dog around in a Fendi Baguette. Or unsafe sex. Or this Sheila in a pacman helmut.




1 comment:

Cheesel said...

I just wonder how many headings that I have missed the pun - loved this one and totally missed it the first time and just noticed as I was arrowing down.sfc