Here’s exactly why the fox eye trend is racist

It’s not just ‘harmless’ makeup

January 14 2021

Nobody should ever be made to feel unattractive, undesirable and unworthy.

Yet for Alyssa Ho and many others, these are the exact emotions they’ve been made to feel over the appearance of their eyes.

Recalling how she felt when seeing the #foxeye trend for the first time, Ho describes an “immediate sense of pain,” not just for herself but for all Asians. A facial feature in which they had once been ridiculed for was being turned into a beauty trend. Worse, it was being interpreted harmlessly as so.

“It was very disheartening to see non-Asians not see an issue with it because they’re granted the privilege of not being a victim of that kind of racism, and therefore they don’t truly understand (or want to even try to understand) why it’s so hurtful to us,” Ho tells BEAUTYcrew.

Since its conception, the trend has since been called out for cultural appropriation and being racially insensitive.

But despite those speaking up and unveiling the trauma associated with it, the fox eye trend is still going strong and therefore education about why it’s harmful is as important as ever.

And so, the listening and learning starts now.

What is the fox eye trend?

For those unacquainted with the trend, the fox eye refers to a myriad of techniques that enhance the appearance of almond-shaped and upturned eyes.

From makeup methods to the ‘migraine pose’, brow shaping and even
fox eye surgery, it peaked in popularity thanks to supermodels such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Note neither is Asian.

The trend continues to emerge in many forms, whether it be via Youtube tutorials for ‘fox eye tips’ or makeup artists using tape to manipulate eye shape, all trying to achieve 'the look' despite its negative connotations.


Why the fox eye trend is problematic and racist

There’s a long history of racism against Asians and their eyes and just because it’s 2020, it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen, nor is it erased.

“Throughout our lives, our eyes have been weaponised against us and now we’re being told that we should be grateful that society is finally embracing them,” says Ho. “Asians have been bullied, ridiculed, ostracised, mocked and humiliated for our eyes [and now] our eyes have been appropriated to become a trend that many take part in for the aesthetic rather than to show appreciation.”

In Ho’s many conversations with East and South East Asians, she says that some only take offense with the pose and for others it’s both the makeup look and the pose, but “wherever they stand against the trend is completely valid”.

“The pose comes across as noticeably the more problematic part of the trend, but I think there’s so much more to it,” she explains. “It’s that they’re purposefully doing their makeup in a way that will elongate their eyes and help them to achieve that almond-shaped eye that Asians have.”

Her question to those participating and encouraging the fox eye aesthetic is: “Can your participation in this trend be hidden under the guise of appreciation if you have no knowledge of, and empathy for, what we have endured for our eyes?” 


The fox eye vs other eye enhancing methods

For a long time makeup and surgery has been used to enhance eyes in different ways, but it’s the specific traits of the fox eye and its attempt to create a more slanted eye shape that sets it apart.

As Ho explains, other looks like winged eyeliner are usually used to create bigger looking eyes and “no group of people have been historically oppressed for having big eyes”.

“To be honest, a lot of what I’ve heard from non-Asians and particularly white women is that if we (Asians) don’t approve of the trend, then we have no right to try and make our eyes look bigger or get surgery like Blepharoplasty,” she says. “They are attempting to silence our voices by arguing reverse racism — to be clear, a marginalised group cannot be racist to the more dominant group.”

To be even clearer, an Asian getting eye surgery for bigger eyes isn’t racist. But a non-Asian person getting fox eye surgery is. 

“Asians attempt to get bigger eyes because of the bullying we’ve experienced for ours,” explains Ho. And while she doesn’t expect cosmetic surgeons to give up the profit from this procedure soon, “what we can do is get through to those who are considering having it done”.


Makeup artists and eye tape

If you follow makeup artists on Instagram, you may have seen some using eye tape to create almond-shaped eyes, whether purposefully attempting the fox eye trend or not. 

Though some may argue the tape has been used in the industry for a long time, for Ho, it makes her feel as equally uncomfortable as the trend.

“Does the longevity of something make it okay? No.”

To people defending the trend by saying that it’s not trying to mimic Asian eyes, she says: “Then why have I never seen the tape used on Asian models? Why have I hardly seen makeup artists do the fox eye makeup on Asians, or ask Asians to pull back their eyes?”

Rather than being dismissive, defensive and disrespectful of Asians who voice their concerns, Ho says a big part of moving forward is to listen. 

Trends may come and go, but when it comes to the fox eye, it’s best to think twice.

Main image credit: Getty

BEAUTYcrew is incredibly appreciative to Alyssa Ho for speaking out and sharing her views on this topic. She has more educational tools about the fox eye trend on her Instagram @alyssahowritings.

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