Believe it or not, Asian blepharoplasty, also known as double eyelid surgery, is more popular than rhinoplasty. In 2015, 1,264,702 eyelid surgeries were performed, making it one of the top three procedures in the world, behind breast augmentation and liposuction, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It’s the most popular form of plastic surgery in South Korea, with 101,985 procedures performed last year.
However, that number may soon be dwindling, thanks to Asian influencers who are embracing the eyelids they were born with. Seeing K-Pop stars such as Son Ga-in from Brown Eyed Girls and Ahn So-hee from the Wonder Girls, who both have natural eyelids, has helped many Asian women accept their appearance, and makeup artists are starting to teach young women how to enhance their lids without surgery.
This wasn’t always the case, unfortunately.
“I definitely grew up hating my eyes,” Francesca Tanmizi says. She has monolids, also known as epicanthic folds, a common eye shape among people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent, where the lids cover the inner corner of the eyes, making them appear to have no crease.
She considered going under the knife because of pressure from her relatives and peers — surprise, surprise — who made her feel as though having a double eyelid would make her more beautiful. However, when she was 16 she met a makeup artist who would change her life (we’ve all been there); he taught her makeup techniques that complemented her features. That was the day she stopped trying to conceal or alter her eye shape and started embracing it, she says.
Twelve years later, Tanmizi is one of the influencers responsible for changing the way we see eyelids. Her Instagram, Working With Monolids, where she posts daily makeup tutorials for different eye shapes, has nearly 20,000 fans. “I’m hoping that, with more and more monolid girls doing their own makeup, people won’t think it’s weird,” she says.
Her posts range from pictorials on accessorizing your lids, like with googly eyes or glitter, to videos of creating the crease without surgery.
Pam Sugiman, the dean of arts at Ryerson University, whose research focuses on gender and race, says that “a lack of makeup products geared towards people with monolids has contributed to women’s desire to modify their features,” according to Broadly. “Most makeup products are not for Asian eyes,” she says. On top of that, there aren’t a lot of women with monolids featured in mainstream media, Michelle Cho, an East Asian studies professor at McGill University, points out, which contributes to the desire for double eyelid surgery.
Kar Yi Lim, who works as the beauty editor at Mochi magazine, loves that the monolid is becoming mainstream. “It was nice seeing those different kinds of styles, in contrast to a lot of the famous pop stars who had very prominent big eyes,” she says, referencing K-Pop stars Ga-in and So-hee.
Lim hopes to create a more diverse representation of beauty and style through Mochi.
Of course, this will take time, which is why Tanmizi still gets offensive comments. People still suggest she do double eyelid surgery, saying that if she had bigger eyes “maybe her makeup would be less shit.”
“I’m more flabbergasted than hurt, because I can’t believe people still do this in 2016!” she says of seeing negative comments.
And many young girls are still considering the surgery. “Usually I tell them, ‘If you’re even having doubts, don’t go through with it,” Tanmizi says. “Don’t do it because of peer pressure. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.”
However, the impact Tanmizi’s having is clear in the comments. One user tagged a friend in a smokey eye shot and wrote, “@joannee.m You could do this instead of wishing for double eyelids… ????????????” On another post of a yellow and black design, a user was excited to see this style for “hooded lids,” which is another type of eyelid structure. “@missymeow_ there you go boo wing liner for hooded lids!” they wrote.
Tanmizi is opening peoples’ eyes to a whole new world of makeup.