28th Mar 2021
Irish model Li-Ann Smal on the triggering viral beauty trend making waves when anti-Asian racism is at a crisis point.
You may have heard of this new beauty trend – the ‘fox eye’ or ‘migraine pose’. I am here to tell you that it’s racist.
The pose involves pulling the skin near your eyes up and back, essentially giving you a facelift and creating an ‘almond’ shaped eye. Sounds good, right? Well, not if you’re Asian.
For me, every time I see this pose pop up on my feed, from celebrities and people I know, it brings me back to years of racist taunting, of being called racist, derogatory terms, of eyes being pulled back to signify that, yes, I am different. I am out of place. I am wrong. I am ugly, and my eyes are ugly. This is what society has bred into me: that Eurocentric (white) features are beautiful and others are not.
It’s not just skin deep. It penetrates further, it makes you hate the skin you live in and the generations before you that that skin embodies. It can make you ashamed of your ancestral past – whole vibrant cultures that you shun and hide away. It can make you ashamed to be you.
Some people are getting surgeries to create the ‘fox eye’ (read: Asian eye) look. Some Asian people also get surgeries; surgeries to make their eyes look bigger or double eyelid surgery. Please take note: this is not the same thing. Asians feel the need to change their eye shape because of the bullying, ridicule, and discrimination we face because of our eyes, because of these white beauty standards. White people get the fox eye surgery because they think it looks nice.
I’ve been asked: “Why not take it as a compliment?’ Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?”
Let me put it plainly: Asian people (especially women) are mocked, fetishised, assaulted, and in tragic circumstances, killed because of how we look, and our eyes play a large part in the ‘othering’ of our race. In contrast, white people can reap the ‘beauty benefits’ of having a ‘fox’ eye (which Asians have always been made to feel is not beautiful) and face none of the racial injustices mentioned above – they will still benefit from white privilege.
I know most people who have participated in this ‘trend’ are unaware of the implications, but that is why it’s important to voice these concerns. It may seem small, but perpetuating a certain image or stereotype of a whole race can have detrimental and horrifying effects. It’s very unsettling to see something you have been bullied over become a trend. And worse, no one seems to want to talk about it or racism towards Asians in general.
So let’s start the conversation. Call out racist behaviour when you see it. Be kind.
Photography by Alex Hutchinson. Make-up by Ashley O’Connor using Chanel Beauty.
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