Double Eyelids – Why Do We Continue to Make Them a Standard of Asian Beauty?

Double eyelids, otherwise known as futaemabuta in Japanese or ssangapul in Korean, are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Basically, some people have a crease in their eyelid that causes it to “double” over itself and some people don’t. If you’re Asian, chances are you’ve heard about double eyelids all of your life, and if you’re not Asian, I would be interested to know if this is the first time you’re finding out about this. You might also be wondering who gives a damn about such minutiae. Whether or not you’ve got a fold in the small flap of skin that covers your eye hardly seems like it should be a big deal. Unfortunately though, at least in countries like Japan and especially in Korea, it is. For many women in those countries and women of Asian descent in general, having a double eyelid can increase your beauty by twofold – or at least that’s what we’re told from a young age by our parents, friends and the examples of attractiveness that we’re exposed to. It’s no wonderΒ blepharoplasty, or double-eyelid surgery, is a common practice for many young Asian girls.

So why am I writing about this? To be honest, I didn’t care about the whole double eyelid thing up until recently. I didn’t care if my friends had double eyelids naturally, got the surgery (you didn’t expect us not to notice that you looked like a completely different person after you came back from Korea that summer did you?), or taped their eyelids to achieve the double eyelid effect. Honestly that’s your business and when it comes to beauty, I think women should make informed choices about what they’re going to do to their own bodies and faces. I like to say I’m a fan of natural beauty but hey, if getting your boobs done, donning a butt pad or wearing colored contacts makes you feel like you look great and gives you confidence, why shouldn’t you? As a person who augments her “natural” lashes by slathering them with 8 coats of mascara and curls them until they fall out, I’m not one to talk.

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Image courtesy of C Campaign


However, the question I will pose is can we please stop making double eyelids a big deal for the next generation of girls? In my experience, traditional Asian parents are pretty superficial, and they’re blunt enough to tell you if you’re too fat, too thin, or if your eyes are too small (the irony!). I’m sure Asian parents aren’t the only ones who do this, but I have to say it takes a toll. When I was a little girl, my mom left me with at Italian neighbor’s every day where I feasted like a queen on manicotti, spaghetti, meatballs, minestrone and more for every meal with peaches and cream for dessert. And then she wondered why I was fat! My mom is a tiny, stick figure of a woman (my dad’s nickname for her – roughly translated – was “Bones”) and my sister is about the same size as she is, so it was very confusing for me to understand why I was the only female in the family that had to drink Slimfast with my middle-aged father.

But I’ll save that for another post and digress. The point is that our daughters pay attention to what we say to them, about them and to our friends while they’re in earshot. I don’t have kids myself but I’m at the age now where some of my friends do and about half of them are girls (startling statistics, I know). Almost all of my Asian friends are “americanized,” and maybe the whole double eyelid thing won’t be an issue. But if you have a little girl who doesn’t have double eyelids, I hope that you can do her a favor and be careful to never make her feel like she needs them to be “pretty.” Because she doesn’t.

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21 Comments

  1. I think it’s interesting to see the beauty standards in different cultures. I’m Caucasian and personally I always thought single eyelids were beautiful! I didn’t even know Asian women wanted double eyelids until reading this. It’s funny because when I was a kid I remember I wished I had eyelids like some of the Asian kids I saw, and there’s were single ones. I just thought they had an exotic beauty and my eyes were boring in comparison. Then in America there’s an obsession with being thin although most people are actually overweight. But in some cultures they want to weigh more. I guess this shows that it’s all just our perception of beauty. What one person thinks is ugly another could find beautiful. I personally don’t think anyone is ugly, we are all beautiful in our own unique ways.

  2. Umm, you have it reversed. Many Asians have double eyelids and get surgery to get rid of it because the skin folds over itself, creating the appearance of smaller eyes.

  3. I’m Indonesian but i have single eyelid, it’s really hard when i have to put some make up kind of eyeliner and eye-shadow, because they won’t seen whenever i open my eyes widely.. but i wont get surgery, i just accept how i look like now πŸ˜›

  4. I googled this because I have been watching some K-Dramas and wondered what the double eyelid comments were about. I guess I kind of get it, but as a Western Caucasian woman, I have to admit that many Caucasian women including myself admire single eyelids. We think they are beautiful! And while I respect the choice of a woman who chooses plastic surgery, it makes me a little sad to think that her natural beauty is being changed to a different standard that is definitely only a matter of taste.

  5. I’m actually Asian with double eyelids, I’m Filipino which is probably why since most Filipibos don’t have much of an Asian look honestly haha

  6. I’m studying in China right now, but I’m from the Philippines, and truth be told the first thing they asked me was do you have double or single? and i said what? since their English wasn’t goo, they can’t pronounce eyelids and they just kept staring into my eyes until they found what they were looking for, and every single girl was so obsessed with it, asking me i like girls with single or double eyelids, i answered i never noticed that before. truthfully can’t see the significance and it doesn’t really impact your whole appearance. Back home, not one person has ever talked about this topic so it was all new to me haha! the funnies thing i ever saw was that girls would go so far as to stick some kind of plastic material that would give her double eyelids, it was disturbing, as if forcing something that wasn’t there, and it didn’t help her beauty at all.

  7. I get Meritline ad emails and in today’s ad there was double eyelid trainer, so not knowing what the hell that was I Googled it and found your site.

  8. I have double eyelids, because I was born like that (I’m Caucasian). I know many in South Korea think that my look is an “ideal appearance” , I really don’t understand why. Personally I think their natural and unique look, their different features from that of mine or other westerners is what makes them beautiful. I guess people are always attracted by something different, so having “double eyelid” is just a temporary trend in South Korea, like it’s lip’s botox injection in the West. Asian girls admire white girls eyes, white girls admire the full lips of black girls, indian girls want light skin etc.

  9. heh, double-eyelid surgery.. I’m glad I’m not a woman. You asked in your post if we readers had heard of this before, I had never even heard of this before today and that’s why I searched around for it (and found your blog).

  10. This seems so silly. I understand that bigger eyes, bigger eyelashes make your eyes more expressive. Maybe the double eyelid thing is similar. I am an indian guy and back in high school, girls sitting near me used to ask to look in their eyes and they would swoon. I have uniquely shaped eyes and long eyelashes. The fuss they made seemed silly to me and still does. I still have compliments about my eyes but no girl has ever become interested in me because of my eyes. I had a girlfriend who had blue green eyes with golden halo in the middle and I thought they gorgeous but I didnt ask her out because of that. I appreciated them but I, like most guys, was interested in the rest of her – inside and outside. Join a gym and run regularly. You will improve your a$$ and legs and become more healthy along the way

  11. I’m Caucasian and teach in a diverse community in the US, mostly Asian and Indian. The whole double eyelid thing is a trip to me! I have ALWAYS thought that the Asian eye was GORGEOUS! Such a beautiful shape. At the end of the day, I will choose my own eyes over having surgery to look like someone else’s. Your article was great, thank you!

  12. I am a Caucasian male of Slavic origin. I find single eyelids most attractive. Why would anyone want to ruin such a precious and beautiful thing?

    1. i might be getting surgery on my eyes because i have a double eyelid and a monoeyelid. it bugs me because on of my eyes are smaller than the other.
      lol this is a very late comment but i thought id share why im considering surgery.

      1. I think Jang Geun Suk has sort of the same thing, one of his eyes is slightly different than the other. But he’s a big star anyway!

  13. So I’m watching a repeat South Park and Mr.Garrison is talking about the difference between Mongols and mongoloids and I, being a curious cat, decided to google mongoloid. I followed the Wikipedia listing in my results and the first feature described is the Epicanthic fold (eyelid crease). Another page discusses “single eyelid” and “double eyelid” and explains it is merely a cosmetic difference and that an epicanthoplastic surgeon can alter this particular feature. I found everything I read intriguing but strange. Personally I never even noticed or realized there were to separate phenotypes of eyefold in humans. Btw I am not Asian, I am a caucasian male of German lineage. I am curious if you have ever noticed that some people have earlobes connected to their head while other dangle freely. It’s almost as though they lack earlobes.

    1. So I’m watching a repeat South Park and Mr.Garrison is talking about the difference between Mongols and mongoloids and I, being a curious cat, decided to google mongoloid. I followed the Wikipedia listing in my results and the first feature described is the Epicanthic fold (eyelid crease). Another page discusses “single eyelid” and “double eyelid” and explains it is merely a cosmetic difference and that an epicanthoplastic surgeon can alter this particular feature. I found everything I read intriguing but strange. Personally I never even noticed or realized there were to separate phenotypes of eyefold in humans. Btw I am not Asian, I am a caucasian male of German lineage. I am curious if you have ever noticed that some people have earlobes connected to their head while other dangle freely. It’s almost as though they lack earlobes.

    1. I prefer non-double eyelids! I have double eyelids. I find non-double eyelids to be very beautiful and it makes me feel ill seeing these naturally lovely girls trying to change that! Not to mention other forms of completely unnecessary cosmetic surgery… *sigh*

      1. I agree with you. Not only does it look better to me, but the lack of opportunities for the skin to fold and other softer angles also probably makes for less wrinkles and less other natural skin damage/aging.

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