Recently, the “fox eye” trend has completely taken over my Instagram page. Famous supermodels, such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, have popularized this look for a mainstream audience. However, the look is highly problematic: it completely ignores the discrimination many Asians face for their physical appearance.
Women are doing a variety of things to achieve the “fox eye” look. On the less extreme end, they can shave off the ends of their eyebrows and redraw them in a straighter line. This is to elongate the eye and mimic these supermodels’ eye shape.
Another non-invasive method is elongating one’s eyeliner in both the inner and outer corner of the eye which gives the illusion of a narrow eye. Hadid has done this herself with thick black eyeliner. According to the World Fashion Channel, you can shape “… your eyebrows, removing a clear corner and slightly pulling the line up. Elongated thin eye lines or smoky eyes, shaded to the temples, will help to emphasize the look.”
The social media platform TikTok has also popularized the method of tightly tying back one’s front hair pieces. This method visually lifts the outer corner of the upper eyelid and pulls it to the temples, making them appear more narrow. Alternatively, blepharoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure that involves changing the eye incision by removing excess skin or fat.
This trend may not necessarily be a deliberate attempt to emulate the average Asian eye shape. However, it is objectively a selfish act of appropriation that ignores the discrimination many Asian-Americans have faced for aesthetic purposes.
Nicole Porio, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is Filipina and believes that “even though society has changed a lot … [the fox eye look] has a lot of negative connotations associated with it, and we obviously want to be better than that. For models, maybe for them, it’s beauty. But, they do have to recognize and acknowledge the fact that it’s not coming from a good place.”
I don’t think that the beauty industry is being intentionally racist. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t ignorance isn’t involved here. Before the upturned eye was considered beautiful and fashionable, people would slant their eyes to disparage the Asian community. That was a deliberate act of oppression to perpetuate Asian immigrants’ perpetual foreigner status.
Now that the upturned eye is considered beautiful, those mimicking it can easily disregard its problematic origins.
Porio said, “the thing with the eyes being upturned has a lot of history in terms of racism towards Asians in America, especially because when they first started coming to the United States, people would say a lot of slurs and point their eyes up trying to mock them.”
This trend is an insidious and sophisticated form of xenophobia. Its current trendiness doesn’t excuse it from this reality.
Michelle Nam, junior in the College of Engineering, offers a more optimistic interpretation of the trend. As a South Korean female, she believes that the trend is not problematic because it is evidence of Western society praising Asian features.
“They are following Asian beauty, and they think that it looks good,” Nam said. “I feel pride for Asian beauty just because Americans are now following it, so they think Asians are more beautiful.”
Both perspectives are valid and important to consider. Before you participate in any trend, it is crucial to think critically about its origins and what you’re actually participating in. The origins of this trend must be clarified to the general public and super models should stop fomenting the look. It is also undoubtedly the fault of the beauty industry, which is now encouraging models to follow it.