OPINION: Fox Eye Trend Reveals Racism Towards Asian Americans

by Sophie Sullivan

Opinion Editor

For months now, artists in the makeup community have been using a new pose to showcase their eye makeup. The pose—referred to as the “fox eye” or the “migraine” pose—is made by pulling one’s eyes back, effectively slanting the eyes, and framing the face between a model’s hands. The trend’s exact origins are unclear, but many credit its popularity to TikTok and Instagram communities and celebrities like Bella Hadid.

To onlookers, the trend is another cute pose to add to modeling positions; for others, it’s a chance to draw attention to their makeup skills. However, to Asian Americans, it’s a painful reminder of normalized racism in American society and bullying associated with growing up while looking different.

Many of those who pose like this do not realize that for decades Asian Americans have been taunted, teased, and bullied by their peers for having differently-shaped eyes. More often than not, their peers accompany this taunting with the pulling of their eyes back in a fashion similar to the fox eye trend to mock Asian Americans for their appearance. When influencers engage in the trend, they promote it and communicate to their followers that posing while slanting your eyes is normal and trendy. In reality, it’s problematic and racially insensitive. By rebranding the pose once used to mock and belittle people of color as a hip new fashion trend, those utilizing the pose dismiss the painful history and trauma inflicted upon Asian Americans. By playing into the trend, you are complicit in over a century’s worth of normalized and institutionalized racism.

Unfortunately, this normalization of racism is not a novel occurrence; turning a classically racist pose into a fashion trend is just another instance in the decades and centuries of normalized racism and discrimination towards Asians.

From historically inaccurate depictions of Asians in Hollywood—see Breakfast at Tiffany’s—to the unjust targeting of Chinese-Americans over fears of the coronavirus, normalizing racism has always seemed to be “in” within modern American society. It’s for these reasons that calling out the fox eye trend now is so important: we need to stop this racism in its tracks before the effects become irreversible.

A common retort to those calling out the trend’s racist implications is that the intention of the individual posing is not to mock Asian Americans or those with naturally slanted eyes. “Chill out,” an Instagram user replied to another user’s criticism of the trend. “She’s very very lightly lifting her eyes as a pose… Daisy is clearly not [being racist],” one user commented on a photo of TikToker Daisy Keech pulling her eyes back.

The reality is that regardless of whether or not individuals are intending to mock Asian Americans for their eye shape, posing with your eyes pulled back is strikingly similar to the same bullying inflicted upon people of color. Those who pose with it may not harbor sincerely racist feelings towards Asian Americans, but by posing with the trend, it grants those who continue to mock us for our eyes the platform to continue their actions.

When YouTuber Emma Chamberlain came under fire for an Instagram photo of her pulling her eyes back, she deleted the image and later tweeted out an apology, saying she realized that “some thought I was posing in an insensitive way… that was NOT my intention at all.” To shift the blame upon those directly affected by her post—“some thought,” rather than realizing her pose was indeed insensitive—is to continue to ignore the implications of what Chamberlain’s actions mean to Asian Americans. 

Reconsider the effects of your ignorance. Our eyes are not your beauty trend.

Categories: Opinion

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