Braces, long the symbol of nerds, geeks, mouth-breathers and others who dwell at the bottom of the high school food chain, have suddenly become très chic. Well, at least in certain parts of Thailand, Indonesia and Malayasia.
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.
Photo by Jason Regan.