Senegalese Women Tattoo Gums Black for Attractive Smile (Video)

One young woman from in Senegal named Marième gets her gums tattooed black.

We see plenty of beauty trends come and go.  Some of the trends are gone in a season.  The latest beauty trend out of West Africa may never catch on in America though…for more reasons than you might think.

The Senegalese women have long had a tradition of tattooing their gums black.  The idea is that the darker the gums, the brighter the teeth, thus a much more attractive smile.  According to the village woman that performs the procedure for the girls in the community, red gums are unacceptable:

“Less and less women are doing this, but some are still interested. Especially young women who are looking for a lover. Listen to me, tattooed gums and a silver tooth: that’s what’s attractive. A woman should not have red gums. Her gums need to be dark. A nice smile attracts men. A nice smile with white teeth.”

The procedure is also said to have dental benefits.  The woman talked about the history of the procedure and how the gums never bleed after having it done.  She also said the person getting the procedure will never have bad breath.  Now, that information alone might make me recommend this to a couple folks I know that are struggling with that.

Watch the video produced by, as they follow a young, already beautiful, woman named Marième as she allows cameras to tape her having the procedure performed on her gums.  She doesn’t get the full 7-layer treatment that one is supposed to get, but she does manage the pain of four layers of the black ink made from oil and shea butter residue being jabbed with a needle into her gums. Yikes!  When she’s done, she says:

“It hurts. I would never recommend this torture to anyone.”

-J.C. Brooks

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