Updated: Oct 24, 2020
By Michelle Guan
Image via HS Insider: Los Angeles Times
While growing up in a predominantly white community, I vividly remember being teased by my classmates for my Asian descent. They would use derogatory terms to address me, singing “Ching chong ching” while slanting their eyes at extreme angles. As a result, I was extremely ashamed of my culture and I wished that I could simply blend in with my white classmates to avoid being belittled.
Unfortunately, many Asians have endured similar racist experiences, which has resulted in internalized racism and self-hatred rather than embracing our culture. Historically, Asians were discriminated against because Western beauty standards dictated that the stereotypical Asian appearance was not desirable. These expectations influenced many Asian countries to change their beauty standards in an effort to appeal to Eurocentric culture, such as promoting skin-lightening creams and plastic and cosmetic surgeries, which include blepharoplasty: an eyelid surgery that gives the patient a more double lid appearance. Nowadays, Asians are still being mocked for their eyes, so the physical gesture of pulling one’s eyes back is upsetting because it acts as a reminder of the trauma that Asians regularly experience. Consequently, the fox eye trend is incredibly problematic since it displays the stereotypical Asian physical appearance as a fad and ignores normalized racism against the Asian community. Although this trend may not have been created to offend anyone, it does not negate the belittment of people with natural “fox” eyes.
As a response to the controversy, many people claim that the fox eye trend is a simple pose that should be viewed as appreciation towards Asian physical features. However, the upturned eye look has only been praised on non-Asian individuals to achieve an ‘exotic’ look, making it ironic that something that has been used to oppress Asians for years is now seen as an aesthetic. Moreover, the fact that people believe that it is not insensitive demonstrates the normalized xenophobia and racism against Asians all around the world.
As this look is being widely recognized as a trend, a new trend will erupt that will replace the fox eye trend. But for many Asian-Americans, the “fox” eye look serves as a permanent burden that can never be forgotten, so a diplomatic response to this situation would be to discourage the fox eye trend because of its underlying racial implications. It is time for the world to listen when communities vocalize their discomfort regarding cultural appropriation instead of invalidating their feelings.
Written by writer Michelle Guan