Dr Sieuming Ng explores the controversy surrounding the ‘Fox Eye’ trend in aesthetics
The ‘Fox Eye’ look is one of the latest beauty trends, made popular by A-list celebrities such as models Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Megan Fox. To date, the popular social media platform TikTok has amassed more than 129 million views with the trending hashtag #foxeye.1,2
The growing popularity of this trend has led to an increase in demand for the use of non-surgical aesthetic techniques to achieve it.3 The technique involved is typically a combination of the use of threads, dermal fillers and botulinum toxin. The aim is to use dermal filler to fill the hollowness of the temples, botulinum toxin to achieve a level of brow lift and to reduce periorbital movements, then finally use dissolvable threads to lift the distal portion of the eyebrow to achieve that straighter brow tail finish. The overall procedure takes between 45 to 60 minutes depending on the combination of techniques used, and the results typically last between 12 to 18 months.
Why is there controversy?
Unfortunately, this much-coveted current look has come with its fair share of backlash. The East Asian community are not all happy with the ‘Fox Eye’ trend now being a celebrated look and are calling it out for cultural appropriation. This is largely due to the fact that the trend is a replication of a particular East Asian facial feature which we have grown up being teased and bullied for.
Moreover, celebrities, social media influencers or anyone imitating the hand gesture of pulling their eyes up next to their eyebrows by the temple region, to exaggerate this facial effect in photos and videos, are mirroring the action historically used to ridicule the East Asian community. As such, this stereotype is a universally recognised symbol of xenophobia and can be extremely triggering to some. To add insult to injury, those who have spoken out about taking offence to this trend have been accused of overreaction, which has understandably not helped the situation.4-7
As an aesthetic practitioner and member of the Asian community I do, to a certain extent, believe in respecting the wishes of my patients. I certainly do not believe in stopping anyone from wanting to achieve a certain look, and neither is it my place to change their desired aesthetic. However, with regards to this particular trend, I believe there are steps that many practitioners can take to approach the situation more appropriately.
Understand the cultural connotations
In my opinion, many aesthetic practitioners need to be better informed when it comes to fashions such as the ‘Fox Eye’ trend before treating patients. Research and understand the connotation associated with the term ‘Fox Eye’ and consider if this is an aesthetic trend that you would like to promote in your aesthetic practice.
If it makes you uncomfortable providing this treatment for personal, social and/or any other reasons, the best approach is probably to be upfront in explaining this to your patients and also educating them about the connotations. If they still wish to go ahead, consider referring them to a colleague who is offering this treatment.
If you are fully equipped with the knowledge of the ‘Fox Eye’ trend and decide you are happy to offer this treatment at the clinic, it may be an idea to consider whether you would be open to re-phrasing the colloquial ‘Fox Eye’ term in your aesthetic practice and in your marketing messages.
It is also important to bear in mind that often patients may come in asking for a particular look but what they ask for might not necessarily reflect what they mean. For example, they might actually want a simple brow lift to brighten their face but may use the term ‘Fox Eye’ to describe it. Do they specifically want the almond-shaped eyes or are they actually more concerned about their eye bags? Or is it ptosis of the eyelids?
Once you have established that it is indeed the almond-shaped eyes they are after, assess their suitability to decide if the non-surgical approach is suitable in achieving those results.
Respecting cultural opinions
I personally feel pride and joy in the celebration of my East Asian features. However, I do not condone the use of hand gestures to exaggerate the ‘Fox Eye’ effect and can fully appreciate why the East Asian community may take offence with this trend. While it may not have stemmed from malicious racial intent, the bottom line remains that any discomfort expressed by the East Asian community around this trend should be heard and respected.
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