Sun. Feb 5th, 2023

The coveted makeup look seems innocent on the surface, but it perpetuates cultural appropriation and subtle racism towards Asians.

By Alysha Casaclang

Everywhere I look, the “fox eye” trend fills social media, and that’s a problem. It haunts me on my Instagram explore page, Twitter’s Trending page, and TikTok’s For You page. Countless YouTube tutorials and Pins inform people about how to copy this signature “look.” It makes me sick.

For those of you who may not know, the “fox eye” trend involves slanting the eyes and eyebrows upwards through the illusion of makeup or by undergoing plastic surgery. This trend is popularized by primarily white models like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Megan Fox. In photos, the look is usually accompanied by pulling back the skin around the eyes for emphasis.

The altering of facial features with makeup is not racist. People change how they look with cosmetics all the time. Whether it is making your cheekbones more pronounced, shaping your nose to look smaller with contour or lengthening your eyelashes with mascara, enhancing or changing your features is normal in the realm of makeup.

However, this “trend” is blatant and unapologetic racism and cultural appropriation. It negates the fact that too many of us Asians are mocked for our eyes and ethnic features, resulting in a lot of self-consciousness, insecurities, and internal racism. There are several childhood memories of people pulling back their eyes in order to ridicule our features. Seeing the fox eye trend everywhere online normalizes racism towards Asians even more. As a matter of fact, Asian-looking eyes only became “trendy” when people decided it would conveniently fit their aesthetic.

Recently, popular content creator Emma Chamberlain posted an Instagram photo of herself pulling back her eyes and sticking out her tongue. She quickly received backlash about the gesture. Her fans defended her; according to them, the picture was a harmless “pose” not intended to be racist. Chamberlain later apologized in a Tweet, saying, “It’s come to my attention that some thought I was posing in an insensitive way in my recent Instagram post. That was NOT my intention at all and I’m so sorry to those who were hurt by it.” In other words, she said: “sorry you got offended.”

It’s not only that post. Throughout history, that gesture has been used to portray Asians as “other than.” In the Stanford Daily article “Unapologetic Cultural Appropriation: the Fox Eye Trend,” Sophie Wang showcases a French political cartoon by Henri Meyer. Wang writes, “the caricature pokes fun at Asian features that were meant to make the Chinese look more barbaric and subhuman to justify imperialism and to make the Japanese appear distanced and isolated from the other European powers.”

During World War II, several soldiers found brides overseas in Asia. The first War Brides Act allowed American soldiers to bring home their spouses and fiancés. Over the next twenty years, many of the Asian immigrants were war brides from Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines. These brides became a cultural and racial threat to the U.S., so in an effort to assimilate, many Asian women surgically altered their eye shapes. 

Surgeries to alter eye shapes and make them appear bigger still continue today. In fact, Wang points out that they are “the third most requested cosmetic operation among Asian Americans and the most performed aesthetic procedure in Asia.” Sad.

The “fox eye” trend is not just a pose or something to take lightly. It symbolizes the exclusion and discrimination Asians regularly face and ignores the trauma we go through for features that are God-given. Pay attention to the voices around you. When an entire community voices their discomfort and concern about racism or cultural appropriation, listen.

The normalization of racism towards Asians needs to stop. Much like blackface, these careless trends must recede from our society.

10 thoughts on “‘Fox Eyes’ are Not Designer”
  1. Thank you for speaking up about this and making it into a post. We need to definitely raise more awareness about this, especially what had happened this year. Racism was normalised, and all the jokes need to stop.

  2. It is not good to judge someone for wanting to do the fox eyes surgery but people are fine for who they are they don’t need to change there looks to feel more appreciative they are accepted to the people who don’t care about looks and who are good friends or followers.

  3. Thank you for bringing awareness about racism towards Asians in our community. When I was born my parents were living in England, and as a Filipino girl my parents were quite worried that I would experience some racism since they had been experiencing it as well. After moving to Canada I haven’t experienced any racism since the majority of my school was Asian, however going into highschool and meeting new people I had heard their stories and experiences and how they had been mocked about the way they looked or speaked. And after noticing through the current years of how celebrities are appropriating some asian cultures by wearing Chinese or Japanese clothing in a provocative way, or doing the Fox eye trend. I’d like to thank you again Alysha Casaclang for shining a light on this topic.

  4. I agree with what Alysha says in this article. Many asians are made fun of for their looks and for how they speak and the racism towards them is normalized. People only think of those mean comments as jokes when it actually hurts their feelings.

  5. Some people may not try to mock the culture they just wish they change a part of themselves they feel self conscious I do agree that it is culture appropriation for the people who are purposefully mocking cultures.

  6. Thank you for speaking out about this topic. We need to stop normalizing the fox eye trend for the sake of the people that were being made fun of for having smaller eyes. Asians are always getting made fun of for having smaller / more lifted eyes and now that social media influencers are getting praised for the pose, it isn’t fair and it’s disrespectful.

  7. alysha did a really good job of educating people about why the fox eye trend is continuing to normalize rasism towards asians and taught me that these arent just poses or makeup looks. i like how she showed how horrible tbis is and why it should be stopped.

  8. Thank you for bringing and talking about this problem up! This disgusting trend has been around way too long and no one is even trying to stop the famous influencers from doing it.

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