Signaling markets in everything: fashion braces

by on January 6, 2013 at 3:57 am in Economics | Permalink

Many teens in Southeast Asia have been shelling out more than $100 for so-called black market braces, mouth gear that doesn’t serve any function other than fashion — and status. While being a brace-face stateside might be a drag, real braces cost close to $1,200 in places like Bangkok, putting dental care far out of reach for the average family. As a result, braces have become a surprising status symbol.

Here is more, via Daniel Lippman.  From Daniel, here are expensive parking spaces in Hong Kong.

Ray Lopez January 6, 2013 at 5:06 am

omg! This is my 18 year old se Asian gf, lol. It’s so true, but in my case I actually bought her real braces since she needed them. She promptly entered a beauty pageant (I would have thought the opposite).

Obvs January 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

Markets in SE Asian girlfriends?

Miley Cyrax January 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

The cultures that are countries with thin girls but sub-optimal teeth.

So Much for Subtlety January 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Can I just say, Ray, how impressed I am that in 40 short words you have managed to tell us all that you have a hot teenage girlfriend is even a beauty pageant contestant, and that you’re rich?

Not very subtle, but nice.

Edward Burke January 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

Anyone here know the contemporary status of what the Japanese call “ohaguro” (tooth blackening)? Tooth character and dental status seem as high in aesthetic regard in east Asia as the disposition of hair in occidental aesthetics. (I wonder further whether any enterprising dentists, making use of #3-D printing or no, are developing dental plates and dentures of blackened teeth that can be worn at social functions and dispensed with in formal and/or work settings.)
The practice of ohaguro in US television journalism would vastly enhance that profession’s credibility, I submit.

So Much for Subtlety January 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

In China it is common to see young girls wearing thick black glasses last seen on Drew Carey. But without any lenses.

bob January 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Brooklyn too although they usually have non-prescription lenses.

Virginia Postrel January 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Drew Carey had Lasik and now has non-prescription lenses himself.

Virginia Postrel January 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

It’s interesting that the article casually equates braces with “dental care,” an equation that wouldn’t have been true in the U.S. as recently as 40 years ago (maybe even more recently, but it certainly wasn’t true in my childhood).

Steve January 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

My mom (now 50) said that something similar was common when she was in grade school, here in the states. Kids would make fake braces out of paperclips and put them in their mouth. I’m not sure how convincing these fake braces were, but evidently they were convincing enough that the practice was widespread at my mom’s school.

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