Seeing Double: Double-Eyelid Tapes

KATE CHENG examines the fast-growing phenomenon of eyelid tapes.

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‘Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder’, claims The Gap Yah Plannah.

Except it’s not a beer that I’m holding, it’s a makeup palette. Urban Decay, to be precise. The illustrated step-by-step tutorial leaflet is telling me to ‘tilt head back to see your natural eye crease’ to achieve a ‘smouldering’ and ‘iconic’ look. That’s all very well, but what if my crease, like, doesn’t exist?

urban decay

Urban And Selective Decay

Living in Hong Kong, I am very conscious of how little the cosmetic industry caters to the Asian market. Most makeup brands are created specifically for Western features and faces. As a result, many Asian girls are given instructions on contouring, shading and lining that simply are not appropriate. The monolid especially is an issue of great difficulty.

Many, though not all, Eastern Asian people tend to have ‘single’ lids – ones that have no crease. As a result, when the eye is opened, the eyelid rolls in on itself and droops somewhat over the eye, pushing the lashes down and making them appear shorter. Eyes can therefore appear smaller or heavy-lidded, and makeup in general is a pain to apply.

A double eyelid has become increasingly (pardon the pun) coveted in Eastern Asia. Nowadays, many women wear a small crescent-shaped tape, just above the lash line, to make their lids ‘double’, while some even undergo surgery if they want a permanent crease. Suddenly your lashes are lifted and you don’t have to spend half an hour (and half a pencil) applying inches of eyeliner Avril-style just so it can seem like you’re wearing a sliver of brown shadow when your peepers are open.

A product advertisement

The advertised results

I remember sitting in front of a mirror at 14 and trying on The Tape.

I opened the little packet from the alluring-sounding ‘Pink Lady’ brand, (which also had the curious tag line: ‘Happy day smiling every day’) peeled it from the sheet and pressed it onto my upper eyelid. A crease! Suddenly I looked…not bad. Ever since then, I have worn the tape religiously.

The first step

The first step

I used to get really insecure about it. Was I lying to people about how I really looked? Was I building my self-esteem upon a precarious and shaky foundation that would crumble at the slightest prodding? Omg, what if my future boyfriend looked at me and was like, ‘Dude, what’s that on your eye?’ and I took off the tape and he saw me as I truly was and called me a liar and ran away? Even today, I am still a little afraid at how much I rely upon these tapes. (It got to the point where I even considered giving them up for Lent. But only for a second.)

The whole eyelid-tape-as-psychological-crutch thing is something that I’ve accepted and am working on. What does annoy me though (apart from the whole people-staring-at-it thing. Take a picture; it’ll last longer.), is when people try and tell me that I’m being ‘indoctrinated by standards of white beauty’. I’m Asian. I’m not trying to ‘look white’ or make white happen. It’s never gonna happen. Freaking duh. And anyway, there are many Asian girls with double eyelids.

Yes, I have grown up surrounded by images of Western beauty and so naturally will find their faces attractive, if simply out of familiarity. Even so, although apparently beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it has been shown that people’s perceptions of beauty are actually quite uniform: the level of facial attractiveness is down to mathematical formula and measurements such as the golden ratio, to proportion and spatial positioning of the features.

Recognising something as attractive and being attracted to it are two different things. Wearing the eyelid tape does not mean that I am trying to conform to one particular set of faces that I am attracted to; rather, it shows an attempt to conform to a basic, universal standard of beauty. I wear the tape so my face looks in proportion, not Caucasian.