The eyes are undoubtedly the most noticeable feature on a person’s face. Generally when two people meet or come into contact with each other, it is considered polite to make eye contact as a means of acknowledgement. The eyes can also be an indicator of the attractiveness of an individual, since the standard of having “beautiful eyes” is defined as having large and round eyes, which just so happens to be a feature that most Caucasian men and women have and most Asian men and women do not.
Many Asians are dissatisfied with the shape of their natural eyes because of the lack of double-lids, which would have made the eyes appear bigger and more “beautiful”. As a result, these men and women often opt for a minor surgery called Asian Blepharoplasty, a procedure that is done surgically to make a single upper eyelid have a fold, which accentuates the eyes and makes them appear bigger and rounder. However, when Asians get this procedure, many people accuse them of trying to make themselves look more Caucasian and of betraying their race.
There are a number of ways that shows the procedure is not copying the Caucasian eyelid, such as the fact that the requested crease is not even the same as the Caucasian eyelid, and also since the first published idea of a double eyelid crease developed way before there was a European influence in Asia. There are many Asian people who may get the surgery after being bullied for having small eyes so they can blend with the people around them and avoid being bullied furthermore.
Other people will see this situation as if the person is trying to look more Caucasian when in reality the person really just wants larger eyes. It can be considered moreover as a big misunderstanding because of a difference in cultures. Asian men and women do not walk into the surgeon’s office asking the surgeon to make them look white. Rather, they walk into the surgeon’s office asking to correct their single eyelid so they can look more aesthetically pleasing and avoid the improper comments they receive about their eyes that could or could not be racial.
Asian men and women get the surgery not to betray their own race, but to enhance their eyes so they can feel more confident as well as look more awake and focused. Firstly to clarify, not all people from an Asian descent have a single eyelid. A little less than 50 percent of the Asian population do in fact have a double lid (Nguyen 185). This double lid that some Asians naturally have is a smaller crease than the Caucasian eyelid as well as a different shape.
If one were to compare two pictures side by side of the Asian and Caucasian eyelids, the Asian eyelid clearly is more parallel to the lid through the entire eye, while the crease that Caucasian people have is more of a semilunar crease that resembles an upside down U-shape (Nguyen 190). The crease of the 50% of Asians with a double lid is smaller and lower than the Caucasian eyelid, so it’s only just enough to complement the eye rather than to give it exaggeratedly round eyes.
When Asians go to get eyelid surgery, they look for this kind of lid instead of the completely westernized semilunar Caucasian lid. In fact, most reports of complaints of Asian eyelid surgery are when surgeons are not educated enough to operate on a person of Asian descent and do the same procedure for their other patients, and the crease is too high and “westernized” (Nguyen 190). Ultimately, most Asians are not looking to have “white” eyelids, but only want to enhance their eyes and get the look that most of their double-lid Asian friends already have.
Therefore, they are not trying to copy the Caucasian eyelid or betraying their race because they are just trying to get a feature more closely related to their Asian counterparts rather than the Caucasian eyelid. Secondly, the original idea of surgically altering the single upper eyelid to create a more attractive look did not arise as a result of Caucasian influence. Dr. Marilyn Nguyen mentions that there were early publications in the Japanese medical literature by a man named Mikamo who described that the double-eyelid characteristic was considered a sign of beauty by writers and artists during that time period.
He also stressed that maintaining an appropriate distance from the lid was important to create a natural look, a look that copied the double-lid in Japanese women that were born with it (185). This information is physical and historical evidence that proves that Asian Blepharoplasty was not even influenced by how Caucasian people looked; the double-eyelid feature just happens to be a naturally attractive feature that most Caucasian people were lucky enough to be naturally born with and that only select Asian men and women have.
In China, the more common eyelid is the monolid. Usually features that most people do not have are considered more attractive because it makes the people stand out from the crowd. Since some Chinese are actually born with the double lid, they were seen as prettier than the people with just a single lid because the double-lid Asians have a feature that not a lot of people are naturally born with. Eventually, having larger eyes became the new standard of beauty and attractiveness.
Once again the stereotype that Asian people get the eyelid surgery just to look Caucasian is overturned. Instead, some Asians/Chinese people get it because the culture they live in believes that double eyelids are naturally more beautiful, stemming from ancient history and the fact that a less common feature makes one stand out and appear more attractive in a crowd that all looks the same. Lastly, the main reasons that single lid Asian men and women get Asian blepharoplasty is because usually small eyes are associated with tiredness or sleepiness.
The droopy eyelids that some Asians are born with constantly make them look tired even when they are feeling energized or happy. Liz, a Korean-American woman who underwent the eyelid surgery, said “I know I’m not 35, 45, 55, but my eyes were starting to sag, and I was looking tired and I didn’t have that youthful look I used to have” (Tyra Banks Show). Here is a woman who had experienced what the single eyelid had felt and looked like, and she was not happy with it and she did not feel as beautiful with these single eyelids.
You may be asking what exactly does youth have to do with small eyes? If you look closely at an elderly person’s face, you may seem to see a similarity between all older people: they typically have smaller eyes because of a monolid that developed over the years. According to Nirmala Subramanian, the monolid that developed is moreover “because skin has lost its elasticity and tone since the collagen and elastin fibres around it have worn out and buildup of ground substance in the dermis weighs down the eyelid” (S88).
Therefore, a thick upper eyelid is associated with age and is the reason why most people with a single eyelid look older than they really are. A lot of Asian people are dissatisfied with their natural eyelid generally want to feel younger and look more expressive, which catalyzes their reasons for getting the surgery. Also, Eugenia Kaw mentioned that there are many racial ideologies that Asian eyes were associated with “dullness, passivity, or lack of emotion” (Ouellette 17). These racial ideologies may exist whether we like it or not.
Some people will just associate small eyes with a tired or dull look because they are used to seeing the usual widened, round eyes as the predominant feature. When Asians get the surgery, they automatically feel more youthful and less tired looking because they do not have the droopy lids they used to have before, therefore also boosting their confidence to be more social. The decision for single lid Asians to get the double eyelid surgery is entirely for their own reasons and definitely is not because they want to be Caucasian or betray their race.
Also, although most Asians are known for having small eyes, there are some Asians too that have round eyes because they have a bigger natural double-eyelid. Therefore, the generalization that round eyes is only for Caucasian people is disproved because Asians too, although not as often but certainly so, can exhibit this feature. All of this evidence together invalidates the claim that Asians who get the double eyelid surgery only do it to look more Caucasian.
The Asian people who have the single lid should have the right to have this surgery to feel more confident without accusations that they are abandoning their race to adopt another’s when it is not the case at all. Next time before pointing fingers, people should be educated on the fact that the eyelid that is produced after surgery is not the same as the Caucasian eyelid and they are in no way trying to copy it.
Works Cited “Focus On Race: Beauty Across All Cultures. ” By Tyra Banks. The Tyra Banks Show. CBS.New York City, 28 July 2008. Television. Marilyn, Nguyen. “Asian Blepharoplasty. ” Seminars in Plastic Surgery 23. 3 (2009): 185-197. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. Ouellette, Alicia. “Eyes Wide Open: Surgery To Westernize The Eyes Of An Asian Child. ” Hastings Center Report 39. 1 (2009): 15-18. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. Subramanian, Nirmala. “Blepharoplasty. ” Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery 41. (2008): S88-S92. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.