Home > Analysis, culture, media, Opinion > Big eyes versus slanty eyes

Big eyes versus slanty eyes

February 18th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Double eyelid plastic surgery - NYT)

The New York Times has an interesting article out which caught my eyes: “Ethnic Differences Emerge in Plastic Surgery.” It is a pretty good read, actually, in describing how minorities in America in the past and present conform themselves to look more “American.”

Where it left off, I’d like to share a few more observations. During the Tang Dynasty, slightly obese women were considered beautiful. The Hawaiians had that same norm in their history too. RV has just talked about soft power, and in my view, Hollywood and American television have tons of it.

According to the NYT article, apparently Asians are into cutting up their eye lids to get that double lid, big “American” eye look. In this next sequence of images, I’d like to show you why they are doing that in America. Absolutely watch the short video at the end of this post and read my point on it.

But, don’t misconstrue me as saying there is some sort of conspiracy. The Japanese subject themselves into anime looking characters. Some cultures subject themselves to contorting their necks so they look like the ostrich. America subjects her people to big eyes and big breasts. And, it is not always the “tyranny of the majority.” I have White American friends who absolutely abhor their children bringing home inner-city Black lingo.

Big eye culture starts young. Blame Tinkerbell.


Blame Dora. I don’t think Mexicans or Hispanics normally have proportionately as big eyes as her.


Blame Kailan. Neither are Chinese girls eyes are as big as Kailan’s.

Of course, what has been culturally established is that in order to be cute and “good,” the eyes must be BIG.

Here comes the scary part. If you are Asian, watch how this video teaches Americans how to draw the eyes of a villain: “bit more slanted, bit more evil.”

How does an Asian American combat this? Pray that China becomes super rich so cool movies of the future portray slanted eyes as “good,” “beautiful,” and “sexy.” The big eyes need to culturally tone down a bit. Or slanty eyes in the West need to be made less evil. I say, bet on China becoming rich.

Getting eye lids cut is just too cruel.

[Update February 21, 2011]
I think the comments below are far more interesting than the post itself. Make sure to have a read.

Categories: Analysis, culture, media, Opinion Tags:
  1. Wukailong
    February 18th, 2011 at 23:36 | #1

    This surgery is very common in China. I’ve even tried to convince some people I know not to do it, to no avail.

  2. February 18th, 2011 at 23:55 | #2

    You are right, Wukailong. I wonder when that trend started in China.

  3. Wukailong
    February 19th, 2011 at 03:56 | #3

    I first heard it mentioned in a book published in 1996, “Red China Blues” by Jan Wong. It was probably most for rich people then, but over the years more and more people can afford it.

  4. February 19th, 2011 at 22:18 | #4

    I am blessed with large eyes (at least large by Chinese standards). My Filipino friends actually think I am Filipino. One of my wife’s Filipino friends mom actually remarked after she met me, did my wife actually marry a Filipino?

    On the other hand, one of my best friend in college was a Korean. We used to joke he was so fortunate to have thin eyes since he could legitimately look asleep in class without being pointed out! 🙂

  5. Rhan
    February 20th, 2011 at 00:07 | #5

    [[……conform themselves to look more “American.”]]

    I think there is misunderstanding. The East Asian prefers round/big eyes are to make themselves look prettier (at least this is what they want to believe). The Chinese Malaysian, of course the ladies, have been aspired to have round/big eyes since few decades ago, I doubt it only getting popular in US today?

    I have a feeling Westerner likes slant eyes Asian, more original and exclusive? Perhaps WKL can help to confirm.

  6. r v
    February 20th, 2011 at 09:26 | #6

    Concept of beauty changes over time, even in China.

    I also don’t think that it’s all about imitating Western standards. (Granted, there might be some of that).

    Chinese girls in Shanghai, even in the old days, with double eye-lids (or the Epicanthic fold) are considered to be beautiful.

    Some have said, that’s because it made them looked more Western. However, the Epicanthic fold is predominant present in Asian populations.

    In fact, only minority of Europeans have that trait.

    Physiologically, the epicanthic fold is linked or caused by the near-absence of brow ridges, which is also a predominantly Asian characteristic.

    *Like Allen, I am also blessed with large eyes. And I was born with epicanthic folds, (but I also have fairly prominant brow ridges for a Chinese person).

    And my father and I both have curly hair. So sometimes, we are mistaken as non-Chinese, perhaps Hispanic. (Probably because my paternal great-grandmother was not Han Chinese).

    *My wife also has epicanthic folds. So I don’t know if it’s really that Western for some of us who are born with the characteristic.

  7. Charles Liu
    February 20th, 2011 at 19:17 | #7

    I remember the eyelid tuck was popular in Taiwan a long time ago. Some of us might even need it for legitmate reason. I’m told I have one eye with lid fold and one without, is because one of my grandmother is not Han (she’s from Guizhou.)

  8. February 21st, 2011 at 02:18 | #8


    I would also add Japanese anime characters eyes are perhaps reigning champs in terms proportionality to the face. Rarely can Hollywood match.

    Maybe China becoming rich won’t cause slanted eyes to be dissociated from being evil, because after all, the Japanese could do it but didn’t.

  9. r v
    February 21st, 2011 at 05:45 | #9

    I think the “double eyelid” trait is not as common among Japanese and Koreans, hence, there was a trend in Japanese culture that came to hold that trait as very attractive.

    That trend later permeated to Korea and to China.

  10. jxie
    February 21st, 2011 at 06:37 | #10

    Don’t know when the predilection of double eyelid started but for sure it’s older than a couple of decades.

    Qin Terra Cotta soldiers were all with single eyelid, but it might only mean the Qin Kingdom people were all with single eyelid. There aren’t enough surviving paintings and statures to show how prevalent this specific feature was. A school of thought is that the real “Han” (people of the Han Dynasty) were all with single eyelid, and the double eyelid is a feature that got mixed in with infusions of various “Hu” tribes.

    Paintings since Tang/Song show a mixture of single eyelid and double eyelid. However, the paintings of beautiful women were exclusively with single eyelid. Sandy Lam, with her impeccable skin and slant eyes, would be a far better looking girl a few hundred years ago than say Fan Bingbing. When did the trend turn? I would say between 200 to 50 years ago, which I suspect was due to Western influence (unlike the preference of fair skin). A good question is if one day China achieves the living standard of Japan, will the old standard of single eyelid being beautiful return?

  11. r v
    February 21st, 2011 at 07:01 | #11

    Qin Kingdom was actually a mix people already with the Rong tribe people of Western China, contemporary with the Hu tribes of the North.

    Chu, Yue, Wu kingdoms of the South were all considered to be non-Han people at the time.

    Also it is a common trait among the Native Americans, who have been separated from the Asiatic people for over 10,000 years.

    Also, all human fetuses have epicanthic fold, and only lose them in later stages of development.

    I think it’s just a very spread out genetic trait.

  12. jxie
    February 21st, 2011 at 08:36 | #12

    @r v

    I actually tend to agree with you, not that school of thought (the Han Dynasty people were all single eyelid). Qin was only one kingdom among many.

    Liu Bang himself was born in a Chu area so it’s kind of hard to argue Chu was not “Han”. Chu, or Wu/Yue, didn’t belong to the tribes that founded Xia/Shang/Zhou, or the proto-Han tribes, but when the identity of Han was created, the Chu people certainly were Han.

  13. colin
    February 21st, 2011 at 12:41 | #13

    I have severe reservations about the conclusion of the nyt article, that immigrants are having surgery to blend in. You can blend in more productively in other ways, nicer clothes, cars, language school, etc. No, I think the surgery is just that, attempts at improving beauty regardless of culture. Big eyes aren’t about looking western, although the culture bias in the west say correctly or incorrectly westerners have larger eyes. Big eyes are innately cuter and more beautiful (of course what is beautiful is up for cultural whim). In animals and humans, babies have larger eyes. Kittens and puppies are innately more attractive, perhaps to affect parental affection and protection. To say that immigrants and east asians are getting eye surgery to look more western is the typical ignorant western view of asian culture and stupid belief that western culture is always superior and that other cultures always try to mimic it.

  14. Dan
    February 21st, 2011 at 19:09 | #14

    Interesting. Thanks for pointing this out.

  15. JJ
    February 28th, 2011 at 06:48 | #15

    Don’t something like 50% of southern Chinese and SE Asians have double-eyelids?

  16. Hillary
    April 7th, 2011 at 00:44 | #16

    It’s kind of funny I’m American with a whole
    Lot of mutt goin on, but it’s German,Indian,Irish
    And a little English like I said a lot of mutt. My point is
    My eyes are so paper thin I look like I just got
    Done hangin with some hippies lol. With all that
    I’m saying anything this retarded to look American
    Is dumb check it out the way we’re going
    It might b better to look Asian..! Don’t get me wrong
    I love the USA but what the heck is wrong
    With people?

  17. Fairytale
    April 28th, 2013 at 03:27 | #17

    I find it very hard to believe beautiful people only have big eyes, tall nose and full lips. Both small and big features can be very pretty.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.