Home > Are Grills Cultural Appropriation?

Are Grills Cultural Appropriation?

Want to get grills for your teeth but don’t want to be accused of cultural appropriation? Well, this is the article to help you out.

Here is an in-depth look at the origins of grills and whether or not they are considered a form of cultural appropriation:

Are Grills A Form of Cultural Appropriation?

No, grills are not a form of cultural appropriation and technically, can be worn by anyone – gold grills have risen and fallen in a variety of countries and cultures around the world – as a result, this aesthetic doesn’t necessarily belong to one group of people.

Did Grills Originate in Ancient Egypt?

Archaeologists initially believed that grills were first worn by Ancient Egyptians. This is because they found teeth on a gold chain in tombs in Egypt.

However, it was later determined that teeth were placed on chains when Egyptians lost them. This was so that the teeth could be placed in the tombs so that people were able to take their teeth into the afterlife with them.

Man with gold teeth grill

In reality, it was the Etruscans – who lived in what it is now known as Tuscany, Italy – who first began wearing gold in their teeth.

It is believed that it was women who wrapped their gold in teeth. In some cases, the two front teeth were completely removed and then replaced with gold replicas.

This was done to show affluence within society. It was the women’s way of saying that they were rich enough to have soft foods prepared for them to keep in line with their fashion desires.

At some point, however, this look began to become less popular until it disappeared completely.

Why are Grills Not Considered a Form of Cultural Appropriation?

Well, as you have just read, grills didn’t come from an Egyptian culture but rather an Etruscan or early European one.

To add to this, the phenomenon of having gold teeth isn’t restricted to just one country or culture. This is something that has been happening around the world. It has simply been taking place at different times and with varying levels of popularity.

For instance, in the Philippines, ancient Filipino mythology states that Melu, creator of the world had solid gold teeth. In an effort to mimic Melu, followers began to decorate their gold with teeth. This was done as early as 1300 AD.

These were typically found in individuals of higher social and economic classes. Therefore, this was a seen of power, wealth, and status particularly among chieftans.

In many South American countries, you will still find older citizens with gold in their teeth. This came from the Mayan practice where royal families decorated or replaced their teeth with pale jade.

This was a symbol of a promise from the royal family to care for and nurture their people and their lands.

Today, however, people in South American countries wear gold teeth as a sign of success. It is to let others know that they have enough money and resources to wear something quite so ornamental.

The Widespread Use of Gold Teeth

Grills are the evolved form of the original gold teeth. Another reason why anyone can technically wear gold grills is that they have originated in Jamaica, Vietnam, and a host of other places.

Now, in some instances, gold teeth had nothing to do with showing off how well-off you were. Instead, it was about creating teeth that would last.

Gold is one of the hardiest substances around, but is rather easily accessible too. What’s more, it is shiny and pleasing to the eye.

So, when people lost a tooth or had to remove one due to decay, a gold tooth was the most obvious replacement. This is because this was an investment that could potentially last a lifetime!

This practice took place in countries like Jamaica and Vietnam. With migration, though, these individuals with gold teeth moved to America.

Here, it caught on like wildfire for its fashion potential. When rappers and Hip Hop artists began wearing them, it became a cultural phenomenon.

Can Anyone Wear Grills?

Yes, technically anyone can wear grills. And, if you take a look around in society, practically everyone does, regardless of race and ethnicity.

Teeth - Grill Bling

As with the times of old, the people who wear grills or gold teeth tend to be higher up in the socioeconomic ladder as well as celebrities.

Now, this has to do with the fact that well designed grills can be quite pricey and can only be afforded by people who are well off. Furthermore, grills aren’t really allowed in most workplaces so you do have to have a job in a creative industry to wear one.

You are unlikely to face backlash regardless of your cultural or ethnic roots for wearing grills. That being said, you should be aware that it was the rap and hip hop industry that pushed grills to fame.

As such, they are largely associated with the African American community. So, although you can wear grills without an issue, you should be mindful of appropriating any other aspects of African American culture include using AAVE and how you style your hair.

As long as you are wearing grills as a personal fashion statement, then there is no issue here.

Are Grills Considered Cultural Appropriation?

No, grills are not considered cultural appropriation as they have origins in Etruscan culture – furthermore, almost every culture at some point or another has utilized gold teeth making it difficult to dedicate its use to just one country, culture, or ethnicity.