Gap-Toothed Women (1987)

Gap-Toothed Women (1987)

A gloriously life-affirming celebration of beauty in all its forms

The Very Best



United States of America
Lauren Hutton, Lauren Moore, Sandra Day O'Connor
31 min


A film so healing doctors should be able to prescribe it.

What it's about

Candid interviews with women about the social impact having a diastema has had on them are used as a gateway to explore broader notions of acceptance and beauty.

The take

Despite the amusing specificity of its title, this lovely documentary from director Les Blank is really for all of us. Through the example of gap teeth — a physical feature many of the participants here report being made to feel self-conscious about — the film makes a rallying call to embrace ourselves and all of our physical “flaws.”

A big part of what makes this film so heartening is that so many of the women featured here (including model Lauren Hutton) have come out on the other side of loathing their gap teeth, giving us a tangible example of what it looks like to love yourself in spite of other people’s opinions about your body. What’s more, even within a limited runtime, Blank finds space to devote to exploring other aspects of the featured women’s lives — their art, professions, religious practices — and thereby quietly expands the film’s focus from physical beauty and onto the myriad beauties of life itself. It’s an ironic pleasure that Gap-Toothed Women ultimately refuses to define its subjects by the very feature described in its title, and instead gives us this life-affirming shot of wisdom for the ages.

What stands out

As part of its pushback on senseless and damaging beauty standards, Blank’s film explores historical and non-Western treatments of gap teeth. Doing so allows it to make the enlightening point that what constitutes an “undesirable” feature in one culture or period might just be the subject of great admiration and envy in another. Though the film was made in 1987, the way Gap-Toothed Women widens perspectives in this way is something we can (sadly) still benefit from being reminded about — making this an always rewarding watch.


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