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Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang, who won gold last night in the 200m men’s freestyle, is being mocked on social media for having bad teeth, because apparently everyone is a sore loser.
Ok, I’m gonna say it – what’s up with Sun Yang’s teeth? Can he not afford a dentist?
— Richard (@RichScotford) August 9, 2016
Sun Yang in need for a decent set of braces, shocking teeth.
— Dylan Brooks (@dbrooksy2) August 9, 2016
In most developed countries, having straight, white teeth is a signifier of class. And while dental hygiene is an ongoing issue in China, according to a study from the International Dental Journal from 2005 among adults in China, “56 percent held the attitude that tooth loss is natural and inevitable,” and many had never heard of dental plaque or the effect of sugar on teeth.
However, crooked teeth can function as well as straight teeth, and having crooked teeth is not a sign of poor hygiene; it just means not everyone lives up to a Western, mainly American, standard of aesthetics.
Making fun of Sun Yang’s teeth is not funny at all. There isn’t a prevalent dental awareness in China and in many developing countries.
— Heidi Han (@heidi_han) August 9, 2016
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'