NYDNFor many Westerners, braces are the bane of adolescence, but teens in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malayasia have co-opted a mouthful of metal as the latest fashion trend. The media has been abuzz over the past week with reports of youngsters in Southeast Asia buying black market braces — fake metal-and-rubber mouth accessories in a rainbow of colors and designs (Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse are popular options) — for around $100 a pop. Aside from the fashion statement, wearing a mouthful of braces has the added allure of being a status symbol. In Bangkok, paying for dental care is costly, with real braces running around $1,200 — a hefty sum for the average family. But as Oddity Central website points out, fake braces have a dark side: they can come loose and slip into the throat, or can cause sores on the gums and inside the mouth. Plus some of the wires may contain lead. The website Vice UK writes that fake braces were the cause of death for two teens. Still, the trend — which has been going strong for at least four years — shows no sign of slowing down. Even Indonesian star Andika Kangen had adopted the look in the form of pink-and-green dental gear according to Yahoo! News.

I know you expect me to bash these silly Asians here. Call them stupid and make jokes about how they eat cats and dogs and are rude on the subway and watch weird porn. But I can’t. I know what this feeling is like. We all do. Remember when you were a kid and some shmuck broke his arm and came to school in a cast? The kid with the new cast was like a fuckin rock star. Center of attention. Getting everyone to sign it. Everyone was talking about his injury. Sometimes they were even a bright colored cast or something. Shit was like the hottest fashion accessory. And even though I knew it meant you had to break a bone I still wanted a cast like a motherfucker. Same thing went for eye glasses. Always wanted a pair of specs simply because it was something the blind geek had that I didn’t. Grass is always greener. Didn’t matter if you were the kid with a broken arm or astigmatism.

So I understand where these poor ass Asians are coming from. I know how much braces suck. They hurt like a bitch and they get food stuck in em and if you break the wires or the brackets your mom wants to fucking murder you. But if I was the son of some homeless Malaysian fisherman and people would think I was rich if I sported some fake braces, well then sign me up. Only thing worse than having crooked teeth is being a poor Asian. So strap some fake braces to my chompers and make people think my mom and dad can afford 1,200 bucks of dental care.