Beauty is all in the eye…lid?

Today I was told that I’m beautiful. Not only because I’m really white (this actually was said with a sigh and a slightly envious tone…and I’m NOT exaggerating at all), but because I have “双眼皮” (double eyelids) instead of “单眼皮” (single eyelids). Actually, thanks to my Native American ancestors…I’ve always thought that I don’t really have much in the way of eyelids at all…eyeshadow is just about useless for me. I tried to tell my friend this, but she refused to believe it. So, after making me take off my glasses and close and open my eyes a few times, she pronounced that my eyelids are indeed double eyelids, though maybe not very deep. I guess that depth isn’t the most important criteria though, what counts is that the double lid is present.

Now, this “double eyelid” is not to be confused with the triple eyelids of the camel…there really is only one eyelid, and the term double has more to do with the shape of the lid and the presence of a crease in the middle of it. For those of us who don’t pay much attention to people’s eyelids at all (most of us, I think) I’ll post a couple before and after pictures of people with “single eyelids” that got surgery done to create the apparently beautiful and extremely desirable “double eyelid.” Since Asians tend toward “singleliddedness” this is also (reportedly) the most popular cosmetic surgery in this part of the world.

Before/After - Example 1

Before/After - Example 2

Before/After - Example 3

Before/After - Example 4

There…now I’ve passed on my recently acquired beauty knowledge to you. Why does this matter? Well, Chinese believe that “double-lidded” eyes are much more beautiful. I’ve heard from several friends that some Asian born actresses and models that have become famous in the West are, in their own part of the world, not considered beautiful at all…and the lack of a double eyelid is sometimes part of the criteria for this. These friends also told me that they couldn’t understand why foreigners think that Asians have beautiful eyes, given the dominance of single-liddedness. When I tried to explain that most of us are referencing the “exotic” (to us) shape of the eyes, and that many people may not have even paid much attention to eyelids or lack thereof…my explanation was met with a bit of amazement and a hint of disbelief. How could such an important beauty standard not even register on our radar screens? How could shape be a more important factor?

Some of me wonders how much this is a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence. We’ve got “double lids” and they want ’em. They’ve got the “exotic shape.” Neither side is satisfied, and people on both sides go get cosmetic surgery done to change what they’ve got. Fortunately, since my eyelids have been pronounced “sufficiently double-lidded” by a Chinese friend, and “slightly exotic” by Western friends, I guess I can rest easy in both beauty standards. :D Living in a world where some more obvious beauty standards (body size and shape, in particular…more on that in the next post) are decidedly NOT in my favour, it’s nice to at least have one or two things that are.

5 thoughts on “Beauty is all in the eye…lid?”

  1. Kelly & Houston have some hilarious anecdotes about culturally-conditioned beauty comments in Uganda. Their blog is messed up and I can only get the post in my bloglines, so I’ll just quote some of it here:

    after experiencing the joys of transatlantic travel and the adventures of the ugandan road system, houston and i finally back in gulu and are settling back into our work routine. i’m truly amazed that january is nearly over, but i have a feeling that this year is going to fly by anyway…and that my mother’s prediction about time and age is slowly coming true.

    upon returning to uganda, four different people have commented about weight that i allegedly gained over the christmas holiday, all with the help of such charming phrases as “you are still adunu (small, shapely woman), but you must reduce” or “you have increased in size” or, my personal favorite, “you’ve done the thing that american women don’t want to hear they’ve done.” not the sort of thing that sends one’s self esteem through the roof, but at least i’m not the only one who’s received a few comments (cough, cough, houston)…and i’ll admit that we did set ourselves on three christmas dinners and several chocolate cakes while in the US. however, with malaria and tape worms readily available, i’m sure we’ll “reduce” in no time.

    all kidding aside though, we are happy to be back in uganda in the midst of exciting possibilities for the new year. we hope to see a peace treaty signed between the government of uganda and the LRA and are looking forward to the expansion of IC’s programs on the ground. we really do intend to post more and to give you a better glimpse of what it means to live and work in uganda, and, as charles requested, more of houston’s thoughts on robots.

  2. Jessica you rock. These posts are awesome. Rachel likes them as well I’ve been reading them to her. Hope you do post more about it. This shows how culturally based beauty standards are. I’m not sure all beauty standards are, but a lot of them have to be. Peace to ya sister. I miss you and Joel a lot.

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