Double the eyelids, double the attraction?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

Never has this saying carried more meaning than in the age of cosmetic enhancements. As society progresses, our perception of beauty has become increasingly warped. We have turned a blind eye to beauty in its natural state, and have become petty and picky with little faults and flaws that up to a century ago would have escaped such harsh scrutiny.

One such ‘beauty’ marker is the humble eyelid. Let’s focus on this microscopic Asian obsession with what is essentially a little fold, or crease, on the upper eyelid. The absence of this extra flap of skin has increasingly caused an undue amount of grief in the last decade or so amongst mono-lidded individuals of Asian descent, particularly in South Korea.

The single eyelid – and its accompanying derogatory sledge (“slanty-eyed Asian”) – has many mono-lids convinced that unless you have double eyelids, you are unlikely to be considered beautiful – not by South Korean standards at least.

As such, double eyelid surgery is the number one cosmetic procedure in South Korea. In fact, it is so common that it is almost expected that any individual born with single eyelids will hurry to get this genetic ‘anomaly’ fixed as early as possible.

What is double eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, aims to ‘correct’ the lack of this eyelid crease by making an incision above the eye to produce a permanent crease, or double eyelid.

The procedure is relatively simple and generally quite safe, and is reportedly the most common aesthetic procedure among both men and women throughout Southeast Asia.

Besides the distorted view that double eyelids make one more beautiful and attractive, many also believe that it enhances one’s employ-ability and career prospects.

Help! My daughter needs double eyelids

A Singaporean-Chinese friend with double eyelids, *Cassie (*not her real name) is married to a South Korean man who has single eyelids. They live in Singapore with their 4-year-old daughter *Yerin (*not her real name), who was born with single eyelids.

The dreaded mono-lid gene that little Yerin inherited has had Mommy dearest in a tizzy since the little tyke opened her eyes. No finger-pointing needed, the blame was squarely assigned to Daddy’s gene pool.

Like most South Korean mothers who despair over their children’s single eyelid status, Cassie too fretted and quite openly discussed her desire to get little Yerin’s eyes ‘fixed’ when she turned two.

My prognosis of the problem here is not so much Yerin’s lack of double eyelids as her mother bemoans, but the fact that a kid would be subjected to such unnecessary assessment at the age of two. The fact that Cassie is not the only mother considering such a procedure is even more worrying. Her South Korean mother-in-law could not have been happier at Cassie’s suggestion, even offering to cover the cost of surgery for her little granddaughter.

I’m not sure if my friend reconsidered the craziness of it all, but I’m relieved to see that to date, little Yerin is four and still walking around with mono-lids – and doing just fine, I might add. Were she to be living in Seoul where Daddy’s family are, I don’t think she would stand a chance. She’ll be suitably, socially acceptably double-lidded by now.

Who wants K-eyes?

One man’s meat truly is another man’s poison.

While many South Koreans are dying to ‘correct’ their Asian eyes, the curious case of Brazilian blond-hair blue-eyed Max should turn such self-doubt on its head.

Max, 25, was so enamored of everything South Korean (from K-pop to K-dramas) that he underwent some pretty drastic surgery in order to look more oriental. He reshaped his eyes to achieve a ‘slanted eye’ look, swopped dark eye contacts for his natural blue lenses, dyed his hair black, and even adopted an Asian name.

While his father supported his odd lifestyle change, his mother was less understanding. It won’t be surprising that a lot of other South Korean mothers will be equally puzzled at this foreigner’s strange reverse preference.

Double take

In reality, many Southeast Asians are actually born with natural eyelid folds, and here’s some news that will make South Koreans blink twice. In the future, many of their descendants will possibly also be born with double eyelids.

Give or take a hundred years, according to the Korea Face Institute. A composite of what future South Koreans will look like, based on a computer simulation of 20,000 photographs, show distinct changes in their facial features – including the birth of natural eyelid folds!

This evolution will come about due to a confluence of shifting human geography and changing social practices. Once a largely homogenous society, South Korea has been welcoming a steady flow of foreign migrants in recent years.

Consequent intermarriages and the birth of multicultural families will literally help reshape the face of Korea – and Koreans – so that a hundred years from now, natural double eyelids, as is the case with many Southeast Asians, may become a surgery-free reality for South Koreans.

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