The Fox-Eye Trend

Chris Chen

Scrolling through social media is often a dangerous path to take, considering the toxic implications of our generation’s “cancel culture” often leaves little room for forgiveness in regards to simple mistakes made. Likewise, there are some trends that have emerged over the past few months that often end up offending or stereotyping specific communities of people, usually at the expense of glamorizing cultural traits or racial stereotypes that have been utilized previously to mock those same people. An example of this racially-charged yet often overlooked behavior is the fox-eye trend, a social media craze that’s been popularized amongst beauty gurus and makeup influencers who seek to achieve a “winged aesthetic”, giving off the illusion of changing your eye shape entirely. The fox eye trend is a result of a multitude of different characteristics, namely using different makeup techniques like eyeshadow, eyeliner and fake eyelashes to achieve a smoky, glamorous look, but also placing your hands at your temples and pulling your eyes back, angling your eyes upwards so they appear slanted, higher and narrower. In other words, making your eyes look more “Asian”.

fox-eye trend.jpg
fox-eye trend 2.jpg

"My eyes are not a trend," by Chungi Yoo (@chungiyoo)

fox eye trend 3.jpg

 While a huge part of social media’s beauty trends and culture is using makeup and other techniques to change your facial features, and many people consider it a form of artistic expression or harmless usage of makeup to enhance your features slightly, the issue lies far beyond the intent of changing the angle and size of your eye shape artificially. It’s the gesture of placing your hands at the corners of your eyes and pulling them back that many Asian-Americans find particularly offensive, especially considering how many of us have been called “ching-chong”, “ling-ling”, etc.—a plethora of racial slurs and offensive, derogatory comments directed towards us accompanied by this exact gesture in order to mimic the shape of our naturally-smaller eye shapes. Asian-Americans have been fetishized and objectified for centuries, looked down upon for uncontrollable things like our facial features, skin tones, our eye shapes and the languages that we speak with our families, and yet the surge of social media beauty trends and culture over the past few years has seen all of these same characteristics taken, gentrified and used for “aesthetic purposes”. The fox eye trend is just one of many examples of ways people have bullied, mocked, harassed and tormented Asian people for years based off of our facial features and looks, but over the last few months have repurposed this same racially-insensitive gesture as an aesthetic to make yourself look more “exotic” or cool online. This trend ignores the centuries of racism and xenophobia that Asian people have faced globally, discards the heavy disrespect and intolerance that the Asian community has endured for their facial features, and uses this gesture to attain a “fox-eye look”, all the while ignoring the thousands of voices that confirm how insensitive and hypocritical this trend is towards the Asian community. 

It’s offensive at the worst and racially insensitive at the very least to pick and choose which aspects of an entire race of people you deem attractive or desirable enough to imitate, while simultaneously leaving some of the most integral parts of our culture, heritage and identities behind to collect dust in the musty storage cabinet of “POC features that aren’t Americanized enough to find desirable enough”. This specific behavior isn’t exclusive to Asian-Americans and Asian people only, considering how little to nothing is off limits for people to gentrify and brand as their new aesthetics of the week. People of color and minorities have been vocal for years now, watching privileged white girls and famous influencers cherry-pick parts of their culture to appropriate on a whim without bothering to learn the extensive history or meaning behind every vividly-colored piece of clothing they don, every intricate tattoo with random Asian-looking characters they get inked on their skin, every attractive and trendy aspect of people’s cultures that have only been popularized as of recently. White women wearing box braids and self-tanning to the point of almost shifting races, a specific issue that’s often nicknamed as “blackfishing” on social media, is another prime example of how aspects of POC communities’ culture are nitpicked only for the aesthetic and trendy purposes, ignoring how black women have been called “ratchet” and “ghetto” for years while sporting the same natural characteristics and physical features that white women don for fun and get praised for doing. The fox eye trend is no different, just severely overlooked and diminished in terms of importance by people who don’t recognize how deeply-rooted in racism and stereotypes it is, and how insensitive it is to gentrify the physical features of a community of people that have been ridiculed and scorned for millennia, sometimes while even continuing to mock and insult Asian people while gentrifying our culture and looks for aesthetic purposes.

This form of cherry-picking and overlooking specific issues to address in our modern day society ties closely into an aspect of social media culture that not many people address or take seriously, which is the normalization of racism and stereotypical, offensive jokes against Asian people who find themselves the butt of xenophobic and nonsensical jokes every day on various platforms. From TikTok to Twitter to Instagram to even Facebook, Asian-Americans are very rarely taken seriously whenever they’re seen speaking up about sensitive topics and racial issues that affect them deeply, often brushed aside or overlooked for their issues not having enough importance as other racially insensitive and offensive comments other minorities experience daily. Popular Asian-American creators and influencers are constantly bombarded with slurs and derogatory comments aimed at anything from their eye shapes to their accents, their heritage, their diets, are told “go eat dog or cat” or “thanks for starting COVID, bat eater!” for no reason, are blamed for problems far beyond their control like Chinese governmental issues despite not even being Chinese at all, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the staggering amounts of racism that Asian-Americans experience every day. The fox eye trend has faced much criticism and backlash from several influencers and creators who recognize its racial insensitivity and stereotypical origins, but has also received equal amounts of defensive opposition from those riding this trend and praising it blindly without bothering to educate themselves properly on its history. While many Asian-Americans continually share their opinions about this trend’s harmful and toxic effects on our society and how it negatively impacts the Asian community, we’re simultaneously squashed down and suppressed by thousands of creators and social media users who popularized this trend and invalidate those who feel disrespected by it. Sadly enough, this racism seems to never be taken seriously and is always overlooked in favor of gaslighting and attacking Asian-Americans whenever they attempt to have their voices heard and taken seriously for once.