BANGKOK – The fake braces trend is a fashion statement gaining popularity among youth in Asia that can kill the wearer, already resulting in the death of two Thai teens.
More and more teens in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and China are buying into the fake braces trend, which started as a result of teens trying to copy rich kids. Whereas the mouth gear in the U.S. is perceived as nerdy and unattractive, Asian teens wear the faux braces as a sign of affluence, status and also as a fashion statement.
The fake braces come in the different colors as normal braces do, and can be customized with Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse themes, for example.
While real braces may cost on average $1,200 per person in Thailand, teens are buying fake versions for about $100 a piece. The cheaper fake pairs are usually purchased at local markets, beauty salons or online.
The fake braces trend has proven very dangerous, as it wearing the unofficial mouth gear has also lead to two deaths in Thailand, according to Vice UK. A 17-year-old from Khon Kaen wore a fake pair and contracted a thyroid infection that rapidly deteriorated to fatal heart failure. A 14-year-old from Conburi also died.
The Thai government has banned the fake braces altogether, prohibiting the production, sale or import of such products. Violators can be put in jail up to six months and fined about $1,300 (50,000 baht).
A study by the Thai government found that most of the fake braces contained lead.
Still, teens are turning to the black market to purchase the illegal teeth gear.
In Indonesia, the fake braces trend is catching on. Andika Kangen, singer of the Andika Kangen Band, has been spotted wearing pink-and-green fake braces.