A book that I still clearly remember from middle school is The Fold by An Na. It tells a story of a Korean American girl, having conflicted feelings about her monolid eyes where her plastic surgery-addict aunt is pushing her to get the crease surgery. Basically, this surgery gives you “the fold”, as the title of the novel gives away, creating a crease on the upper eyelid.
It may be hackneyed, and a totally overdone topic. The whole #monolid self-love movements on Instagram, and articles like “The Beauty of Monolids” by Allure or “22 Gorgeous Girls with Monolids” by Buzzfeed are everywhere on the Internet. In 2016, a Korean drama called Goblin was aired on TV, and it created a social boom, as it was one of the first of very few mainstream drama series with a mono-lidded leading actress. Things have changed a lot. Now, the World Wide Web is a treasure trove full of self-love for monolid eyes, and the key words peppered in every beauty article –– gorgeous, beautiful –– seem transformative to see mono-lidded Asian women praised and represented.
So why do Asian girls still, and constantly, strive for that crease?
The magnitude of the Asian eyes vanity is actually greater than we think. Young Korean girls like me grow up in a community where we are surrounded by taunts and cries of dissatisfaction: “Your eyes are so slanted”, “Your eyes are not suitable for makeup looks”, “You should get the double eyelid surgery as soon as you’re old enough”. Nowadays, those sayings have changed to something remotely better… or have they?
“Your eyes are pretty for a mono-lidded Asian.”
Westernization is still ever so prominent in the cold, unforgiving media of the unattainable beauty standards, and K-pop idols are still flashing their elfin, anime-like appearances for the world to see and approve.
I, too, was once under the pressure of the aesthetics-by-knife craze in the midst of ambivalent teen angst. All my friends around me were getting the double eyelid surgery as soon as they turned 18, and this made me fluctuate between two modes of hating my monolids and loving them. I tried many beauty products such as the eyelid glue and tape to create what the Westernized media covets and screams out to be socially acceptable – big, round, perfectly creased double eyelids.
I look into the mirror. I rub my face and stare at my reflection, where I see a pair of wide, smooth, almond-shaped monolid eyes. People say eyes are the ultimate literal portal to decide beauty standards, but why get the inferiority complex simply based on what the world may prefer? There’s no point in being self-deprecating. I realized I was focusing on what I didn’t have rather than knowing what I do have. It’s time to embrace my Asian features and reconcile that there are so many types of beauty and ways to be myself. It’s okay to flip the world the middle finger – I am my own kind of beautiful.
I now embrace the single-lidded, dark brown windows of the soul. Beautiful.