Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – literally. In Asian culture, there’s a visible rise of demand in the market for something called double eyelid surgery. In fact, the market was estimated at HK$900 billion (over US$116 billion) in Asia.
But this surgery has no medical purposes and is purely for aesthetics. But what is a double eyelid and why is it seen as such a big deal in Asia? Here’s what they are, why they’re highly desired, and the different ways men and women use to achieve them.
What Are Double Eyelids?
Double eyelids are eyelids that have a natural crease or fold. It’s easy to tell whether or not you have double eyelids simply by looking at a mirror. Open your eyes like you normally would. Above your eyelash, there should be a distinct horizontal curved line that starts from just above your tear duct in the inner side of your eye and then curves all the way to the other side of your eye.
In medical terms, this is the supratarsal eyelid crease. While it doesn’t serve any additional purpose nor does it give people with double eyelids a medical or biological advantage people without double eyelids don’t have, the existence of it provides people with the crease.
Monolid vs Double Eyelid
People without a crease have what’s known as monolid eyelids. People with monolids have straight and flat skin between their eyelashes and eyebrows. In medical terms, this is known as an epicanthic fold.
When people with double eyelids open their eyes, their eyelid folds and creates an outer crease. But when people with monolids open their eyes, their eyelids pull back, so there is no visible crease.
Neither types of eyelids have an advantage over the other. The only difference these two have are aesthetics. For example, some eyeliner or eyeshadow styles may be flattering to a certain eyelid style, but it might not be flattering to all. Double eyelids also give the appearance of bigger eyes.
Why Are Double Eyelids Popular?
While it is possible for people of all races to get double eyelids and monolids, monolid eyelids are more common in people of Asian ancestry, which is why monolids are often associated with Asian people. However, in East and Southeast Asia, there’s a 50-50 chance for women to get born with monolids or double eyelids. Despite this high number, however, double eyelids are seen as the standard of beauty in many Asian countries.
It’s unknown for certain why double eyelids are considered the beauty standard in Asia. Many would claim that this is a form of the East upholding Western beauty standards, as double eyelids are more common in western societies. However, this is most likely not the case. In the United States, for example, many white women are accused of going borderline blackface by tanning themselves to the point that they look more racially ambiguous than white. In Asian culture, however, porcelain white skin is considered a beauty standard, hence the reason why the beauty market is filled with products pointed towards how to get lighter skin.
One possible reason this has become the beauty standard in East and Southeast Asia is because of the long-existing beauty standard that favors big eyes. A person with double eyelids, therefore, can help tick off many of the existing beauty standards. Double eyelids make eyes look bigger. Bigger eyes make a face look smaller. A smaller face can make a person look slimmer.
And now that there are ways to look like a person has double eyelids, there’s an even bigger increase of pressure for Asian people to have this look. Because if the solution exists, it’s expected that everyone take it.
Ways to Achieve Double Eyelids
Double Eyelid Surgery
This procedure is also known as Asian blepharoplasty. Records show that double eyelid surgery existed as early as 1895, when more people in Japan were said to remove “the curse” of monolids. However, after cosmetic surgery stopped becoming stigmatized in the early 2010s, cosmetic surgeons around the world saw an increase in people opting for this procedure.
In 2014, there were over 1.43 million people who underwent double eyelid surgery. This procedure is particularly popular in East Asia, especially China, South Korea, and Japan.
This surgery is completely for aesthetic purposes only, though some claim to undergo this surgery because their eyelids are affecting their vision. While most people who have them are those with monolids for aesthetic purposes, others do it because they have uneven eyelids (one double eyelid and one monolid) and want both to match.
During an Asian blepharoplasty, a plastic surgeon makes an incision and removes a part of your eyelid. Days after it heals, the skin will adjust so that it forms a natural crease. According to surgeons who have done this procedure, the incision isn’t the most difficult part. It’s the attempt to make the crease look as natural as possible while matching with the other eye.
Done correctly, a person will have creased eyelids after the incision heals. However, if done incorrectly, there could be visible scarring that could affect the appearance of a person’s eyelid.
In East Asia, getting double eyelid surgery is just as common and as easy as getting a haircut. While both men and women are driven to undergo this procedure, it’s more common for young women to pay for double eyelid surgery. In some cases, beauty standards are deeply embedded in some people that parents are willing to spend money to send their underaged daughters to get surgery. In China, it is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery.
Eyelid Tape and Glue
For those who don’t have the money for surgery or do not want to undergo the operation, eyelid tape and eyelid glue are two temporary solutions to achieving double eyelids.
Eyelid tape is similar to double-sided tape. To use it, a person places the tape on their eyelid and then peels off the cover of the other side. Next, they use a special wand to push the eyelid upwards in such a way that the tape sticks to another part of the eyelid. This creates a crease and gives the appearance of a double eyelid crease.
Eyelid glue is slightly similar, except for a few steps. Eyelid glue either comes with an applicator brush (similar to the brushes you see in nail polish containers) and a special wand. The glue is applied in a place similar to where you’d put the eyelid tape. When pushing the eyelid upwards, however, they have to wait for the glue to dry before releasing.
Eyelid tape lasts less than 24 hours, so a person can wear it throughout the day and then remove it before going to sleep.
Should I Get Double Eyelid Surgery?
Most women who undergo double eyelid surgery do so simply to adhere to the beauty standards set in their country or society. Even outside of Japan, South Korea, and China where double eyelids are the standard, many people of all races choose to undergo this surgery because double eyelids are more common and they feel like their eyelids set them apart.
I wouldn’t recommend getting surgery just for the sake of fitting in. Eyelids are such a small detail on a person’s face, yet every year millions of men and women feel the need to have it altered. Beauty is subjective, and no one should have to feel pressured to undergo an operation just because society tries to dictate what looks good and what doesn’t.