If you believe the commercials, having a bright, white, straight smile can get you pretty much anything you want. And while some of the four million people in America with braces have them for medical purposes, for the majority of people, braces are all about getting that “winning smile” you see on television.
This is even more true for women, according to Philip N. Cohen at Sociological Images. Not only are girls more likely to want braces, they’re also more likely to get them for cosmetic reasons:
Among those getting braces, there are more girls whose need is low or borderline. A study of 12-19 year-olds getting braces at a university clinic found 56 percent of the girls, compared with 47 percent of the boys, had “little need” for them on the aesthetic scale.
The same pattern is found in Germany, where 38 percent of girls versus 30 percent of boys ages 11-14 have braces, and in Britain – both countries where braces are covered by state health insurance if they are needed, but parents can pay for them if they aren’t.
These kind of statistics aren’t restricted to teeth—the vast majority of cosmetic surgery is done on women as well. But the fact that women feel the need to change their appearance more than men starts long before Botox and boob jobs are on the table.
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