Friday, February 5, 2010

"Asian" eyes: Maybe she's born with it, Maybe it's Maybelline.

Please skip this post if you don't want to hear me rant.

Which continent's eyes were you born with? African? American? Hmmm...maybe Asian? What do African eyes look like? I don't know, but I can tell you what Asian eyes look like:

Yep! According to the people at Maybelline, that's what "Asian" eyes look like. Do they look familiar to you? Have you seen them before? Here, let me help trigger your memory.

The infamous "Chinky eyes" taunt, experienced at least once by every East Asian person living in a non East Asian country, has been given the official Maybelline stamp of approval. 
Yes folks, Maybelline concurs with all those playground bullys who used to walk up to you, pulled up the outer corners of their eyes with their index fingers and claimed that they could blindfold you with a piece of dental floss because you have "Chinky eyes".
Feeding into a discrimatory stereotype much?
According to Maybelline, all Asians have eyes with "a distinctive lift at the outer corners and very little lid". Yes, this applies to ALL Asian people, including Indian, Indonesian, Phillippino, Nepalese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Yemenese, Israelian, Lebonese, Turkish, Iranian....need I go on? Do they even realise how many different countries and nationalities fall under Asian?

Hello Aishwarya, you don't have Asian eyes!!! You must not be Asian!!!

I don't know how this works really, are you Asian if you have those eyes, or is an Asian person no longer Asian if they don't have Asian eyes? Here are my eyes, no glue, no tape, no surgery, no makeup:

I'm probably biased, but to me, they look more like these:

Does this mean that I'm not Asian or my eyes aren't Asian? Does hailing from the Asian continent mean that you're automatically preclude from having "Centered eyes that are one eye-length apart and have uniform features."?
I wouldn't have such a big problem with this if they had choices for say, European eyes, African eyes, and American eyes. Why are all the other choices based on the physical characteristics of your eye, and then they suddenly have one based on a continent? Did someone at Maybelline headquarters just not bother to look up how many different eye shapes people from the Asian continent has? It's like as if they had listed different types of noses, high bridged, flattened tip, wide based, upturned and then "American". Would you find have found that offensive? Do we not deserve to choose based on the physical attributes of our eyes? It's as if by belonging to a certain continent, we can only have 1 eye type, and hey sorry for you, but that happens to be Chinky eyes.

This is my boycott, I went through my makeup stash and isolated every Maybelline product I owned, and I put it right where I think their company and its generalisations should go, straight into the bin. I know it's not much, heck it's only 2 mascaras, but I need to drive my message home. Further, I shall never purchase their products again.
Maybelline, shame on you!

Edit:  As of this post's publish date, Maybelline has changed the descriptions on their website. This is what it currently looks like:

I have no bloody clue what shapes eyes come in other than "Almond", but hey it's a whole lot better than slanty eyes. Maybe there's people out there with square eyes.
If you want to see what the original website descriptions looked like prior to the change, please head over to my friend Rasilla's post where she has taken a video documenting the original site. She's the one who discovered this atrocity in the first place, and she's also the one who sent COUNTLESS correspondence to the unresponsive Maybelline reps in an attempt to bring this to their attention.  Read her post with the frustrating e-mail exchange.
End rant.


  1. So I got an email this morning, and it was from someone saying that I shouldn't have 'settled' for this new change to the descriptions. That after all that "squeaky wheeling" (Which I took offence to cause the definition on UrbanDictionary wasn't so nice...) That this was what I was willing to accept. It isn't all that much better, but at least they changed it...but really, I agree, what other shape is there?

    Harsh? I would think not mainly because it is to that extent it really got to us. The fact that we still have to endure such...stupidity (and I know will continue to have to).

    But yes, I was sad when I realized that my beloved Stiletto was also Maybelline. I have one extra backup, but I think, personally (though it might not effect them much), I will try and avoid buying from the brand.

    Yes they may have changed it, but the thoughtlessness of it all is enough.

  2. Yea, I've been rather fond of my Stiletto T_T *sigh*

    Ras, I find it quite contrary of that person to be coward enough to take no part in this battle him/herself but to judge you for "settling" after all the effort you put into this.

    You know what, though? We knew from the start that this would be an uphill battle and that idiots would fling their poo our way lol.

    I'm extremely proud of you guys for speaking out when it would have been so much easier to take this kind of insult lying down.

  3. kudos for taking a stand and being brave and voicing it!

  4. wow kudos to the both you and rasilla for taking a stand for us. I do feel quite offended as I gigantic eyes that are not very "asian" like at all. People have actually told me that before in real life too. You would imagine that the ignorance in our current society would not be this bad, but I guess not. Sigh, very proud of both of you though!!

  5. Ugh! They're doing it again! What's with them and stereotyping Asian eyes as being just 1 kind of Asian eyes. I guess mine isn't Asian eyes too, according to Maybelline. That is totally disappointing that they even promote such information out to the public. Thanks for this post. I now think twice on getting any Maybelline products, luckily I don't have that many to begin with.

  6. oooh argh my pretty somalian pirate!! LOL I AM BACK!!!!!! This post has made me giggle no end, imagine if maybelline visited SA??? How confused would they be?

  7. I think they were threatened by a lawsuit or something, hence the change. McNunu, did you bring the wrath of God to Maybelline?

    I don't have any makeup from Maybelline anymore, I believe. Their stuff don't live up to my standard anyways. I'm more Team L'Oreal when it comes to drugstore makeup these days.

    Thanks for speaking up, my beloved Somalian pirate :)

  8. you make a good point in this post! looks like everyone's responses to this worked. nicely done! xx

  9. Right on..! Maybelline maybelline maybelline.. I am truly disappointed with them.

  10. Really? Really? I've grown up with people of all different races from all different countries, and most of the people I know who are from India and Russia don't identify themselves as Asian. People who are pacific islanders don't identify themselves as Asian, and almost all of the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean people I have ever talked to have identified themselves as Asian.

    Somehow it's ok to introduce yourself as Asian, and claim that other Asians aren't "really Asian". (Not saying you did this, but this is all I ever hear). But when you call someone Asian....WOAH! I've only ever met three people who identified themselves as being of Asian decent (east Asian) who have had a natural double lid, and one of them was half white. And even though it made ME uncomfortable THEY identified their mono-lidded, and slanted eyes as "Asian eyes". How do you know it wasn't an Asian person at Maybelline that did that? And you play the race card, Really?

    No, not every Asian person has monolids, nor are their eyes slanted, but the vast majority of people I know who are Asian DO have this eye shape. I'm sorry if that offends you, but you are getting mad because you don't have that eye shape and someone made accommodations for people that do? Then you assume that the person that did that was not Asian themselves, and therefore must have been racist.

    Lets be happy that Maybelline was being accepting of people that aren't just one size fits all, and made exceptions who DO have monolids. Monolids are something that ARE distinctly Asian (unless you are talking about select tribes in Africa). They are something to be proud of because they are beautiful. Though I suppose Cover Girl is racist now because they have a makeup line for black people.

    You have a point in saying that that should never have been called "Asian eyes" because yes, that is dumb. But you have no right to play the race card when you have no proof that there was any racism going on. The way I see it they were opening the spectrum a bit to allow for people who DO have monolids to use the site to.

    You know a part of growing up is getting over what idiot kids said to you when you were growing up, and you know, not throwing a hissy fit and throwing a bunch of stuff in the trash just because you don't like it when someone repeats something they've been told. Every time I talk makeup with my girlfriends monolids is never mentioned, it's ALWAYS "Asian eyes" this, and "Asian eyes" that. "Ugh, I had to buy another eyelash curler because you damn Asian eyes push my eye lashes down!"

    But I guess if one of these girls went and posted on a website about her eyes, the website is racist? Nice logic.You best get onto youtube and find all of those Asian girls out there making videos about makeup for "Asian eyes". And I'm sorry to say, but yes you do have "Asian eyes", you may not have the stereotyped slant, or mono-lid. But your eyes are distinctive, and yours. And if you have a problem with that, or are insulted, then that speaks far more about your personal issues with your own identity than it does for mine.

    My friend was excited with the "Asian eye" inclusion back in junior high, being that almost all makeup tutorials followed as such. Put this colour on your brow, this in your crease, and this on your lid...yeah, not very inclusive to people with varying ethnic features now is it?

  11. @AyanaLinval
    Thank you for your input, I appreciate the points that you've raised.
    Firstly allow me to say that nowhere in my post did I use the word "racist" nor did I accuse anyone of being racist.
    I say that Maybelline was feeding into a discriminatory stereotype by associating one eye type with everyone that lives in Asia.
    It's discrimination because "Asians" were singled out and categorised by the name of the continent that we live in.
    Have you thought about how ridiculous it would be for them to have used "African", "American" "Europe" and "Antartica" as categories? For that same reason, they should not have used "Asian". If that was done, I would have no problems with them using "Asian" as an adjective.
    While I am well aware that monolidded eyes are more or less inherently distinctive to East Asian people, that is the way they should have been described; as "monolids" instead of as "Asian".
    Whether a person claims themselves to be Asian or not depends on their idea of what constitutes "Asia". In most people's minds, "Asian" people are only associated with East Asians. However, in terms of geography, the Asian continent does encompass countries where the physical characteristics of its native people do not correspond with the average Joe's idea of what an "Asian" person should look like. However, that does not change the fact that they are Asian in the correct geographical demonym of the word.
    I refer to myself as Asian although I grew up in Africa and am in every way, other than in the way I look on the outside, a South African. This does not, however, mean that I have any physical characteristics which can be categorised as "Asian". That is because every single part of my body could belong on a different race. It does not occur exclusively to mine.
    I grew up in a country where the name of the continent does not denote what you look like. Africans? we can be Black, White, Brown, Yellow and anything in between.
    And honey, it's not your "Asian" eyes that are pushing your lashes down, it's your eyelid.