When photos revealed that actress Dakota Johnson had gotten her tooth gap closed, the outpouring of angst on social media was to be expected. But the reaction just reinforces the double standards women are placed under, writes Jennifer McShane
Hands up if you didn’t even know Dakota Johnson had a tooth gap? It barely registered but perhaps that is because her red carpet smile tends to be on the demure side. She tends not to bare all in terms of a toothed grin.
However, much of the US media insists the Fifty Shades star was, in fact, known for her gap. She even demonstrated her “only skill” of storing various objects in her teeth for a Vanity Fair video back in 2017. She was able to fit a credit card, a twig, a cherry stem, a paper clip and $1,100 in cash in the gap, which to be fair, was mighty impressive. She was one of a few celebrities, namely Madonna, who had a more natural smile – but she isn’t the first to opt for a change.
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Zac Efron, Demi Lovato, and, recently, Jordyn Woods all had theirs “fixed” but there was no similar grievance. There was much commentary when it came to Johnson. Why didn’t she want to make this “imperfection” a part of her image? Was she so insecure she felt a change necessary? The slew of photos of various flattering before-and-after shots of pearly whites. And the below tweets:
rip dakota johnson’s gap tooth gone but not forgotten pic.twitter.com/MhSv2G2ZWl
— jenina (@suspjria) August 4, 2019
This is the saddest i’ve even been. RIP Dakota Johnson’s tooth gap ?? pic.twitter.com/wFN3C8u0xu
— ????? ??????. (@asofmor) August 3, 2019
why would dakota get rid of her tooth gap i hate her
— zoe (@angeIfilm) August 3, 2019
Dakota Johnson getting rid of her gap tooth is the worst thing that’s happened this week and I literally accidentally flushed my AirPods down the toilet yesterday
— ???? (@ell4maria) August 3, 2019
me @ dakota johnson for closing her gap pic.twitter.com/3qAWqa1M9n
— k (@wtvrkathleen) August 5, 2019
This reaction simply enforces the pressure women are always under to adhere to a certain set of standards and rules when it comes to beauty.
On the one hand, Johnson is criticised because she apparently chose to conform; to opt for a smile that was more “perfect” than it had previously been. Yet, as women, we are consistently told this is what we must do if we are to be deemed to be beautiful through the eyes of a large portion of society – we must at least be seen to be striving for perfectionism. Arguably, the actress was doing this.
Or, she could have just been addressing insecurity and finally decided to do something about it.
On the other side, she was criticised for a failure to embrace what many viewed as a “quirky imperfection” – and she was wrong for this too. What does it say about her if she won’t embrace a “flaw”? one article asked.
Why should she have to embrace anything?
There was no winning. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Simultaneously judged for attempting to fix what might a small insecurity or hit out at because you haven’t done enough to keep these invisible, either side of the argument is endless and tiresome.
Johnson did what she felt was best for her; exercising her right to change her appearance however she pleases.
Tooth gap or not, that is the most flattering thing of all.
Main photograph: @WorldOfDakota