Slanty Eyes Be Gone

Growing up in London as an ethnic minority, I had to put up with a fair amount of teasing and some English kids would sometimes stretch their eyes with their hands to make them narrower, I suppose in reference to the notion that Chinese have small, narrow eyes. But that was many, many years ago and I’d almost forgotten about it till I came across this ad from a Taiwanese cosmetic surgery company (clearly it’s not mainland China as nobody would have 3 kids). The idea is that the parents have had work done on their eyes to make them bigger while the kids, clearly haven’t. The slogan reads “the only thing you need to worry about is how to explain it to your children”.

Is it me or is this wrong on so many levels. I mean, isn’t it a bit like someone advertising a treatment for black people to whiten their skin, saying something like “you too can enjoy the benefits of being a white man”? Or am I taking a humorous ad far too seriously?

The other thing that strikes me is that in the picture, the parents actually look like normal Asians and it’s the children that look strange. I have never seen any kids with eyes that small!

(Thanks to loyal reader CP for sending me this)

This entry was posted in Amusing, Arrrrggghhh!. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Slanty Eyes Be Gone

  1. flutter-by says:

    The children’s eyes were doctored too much. And yes, I think you’ve took this humorous ad too seriously.
    Actually nobody would be racist-wise offended in contrast to urging black people to whiten their skin. Because only laowai think all Chinese have slant eyes. Chinese people never acknowledge it as an ethnical symbol, and few people is even aware that it is scoffed by foreigners. (Similarly, few caucasian laowai is aware that their noses are often scoffed by Chinese).
    BTW, I am curious why some laowai, while scoffing Chinese people’s slanty eyes, think Lv Yan (with typical slanty and narrow eys) is a beauty, and boost her into a supermodel. I bet 99 out 100 Chinese people think she is absolutely ugly.

  2. WoAi says:

    @Flutter-by – Right, okay, I’ll dial down the outrage and just enjoy being amused. I think with regard to beauty, they make fun of the eyes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think it can look beautiful on the right person, so I don’t see any inconsistency here. It is true though that many Asians regarded as beautiful by westerners are not seen the same way by Asians. Different strokes for different folks!

  3. flutter-by says:

    @WaoAi – You are spot on. You are a Chinese ethnic Brit. I’m interested how your esthetic scale is calibrated. How would you rate Lv Yan (1-10)?

  4. WoAi says:

    @Flutter-by – Sorry, she does absolutely nothing for me (and not because of her eyes). And I do often see western guys with what I regard as unattractive Chinese girls and I think to myself “what were they thinking?” But perhaps they have nice personalities! Give me Shu Qi any day!

  5. flutter-by says:

    Shu Qi gets bi-polar rates even among Chinese. Personally, I think she is very attractive.

  6. WoAi says:

    @Flutter-by – Hands off, she’s mine!!! But yes, bizarrely not everyone’s cup of tea. Nothing wrong with your eye sight though!

  7. Hua Jing Li says:

    I disagree with flutter-by. I find this advert to be really offensive and reflects how much self-hate Chinese people have towards their own ethnic features. As Chinese girl, though I don’t have small eyes, but if I did, I would be so insecure with advertisements such as this, growing up to be told that my eyes need to be changed because they are not seemed to be beautiful. That’s why there so many things, such as the sticky tape is supposedly to open your eyes. Equally, I dislike the whole skin whitening concept in Asian and African countries, I understand there is a class association with skin tone. But to me it is all about trying to look European, if you look at Chinese female pop singers, they are all pale with both European eyes (natural or fake) small European nose and small mouth. There is no diversity in it at all.

    Lastly Flutter-By, I think many people of African descent would find an advertisement about whitening their skin to enjoy white privileges very offensive.

  8. WoAi says:

    @Hua Jing Li – Thank you for backing me up on this. Perhaps you need to be Chinese to be offended by the ad! I do think it’s odd that bigger eyes are considered better. I’ve never thought my eyes needed to be bigger and I don’t think my eyes are especially larger than most average Chinese people. I’m changing back to being outraged!

  9. Hua Jing Li says:

    Lol. I think you have already made your decision, from the start. Most Asian people consider western beauty to be better, look at Japanese Anime, big eyes, small nose and mouth. My preference on beauty is a good cheekbone structure. Big eyes doesn’t mean beauty, if you look at Zhou Wei, big eyes not very pretty, but then again just depends on your taste.

  10. flutter-by says:

    @Hua Jing Li (Manager Hua?) – I guess you’ve misread my comment. I said “nobody would be offended IN CONTRAST TO urging black people to whiten their skin”. I wish this clear the misunderstanding.
    Speaking of skin whitening, is it a bit far-fetched to reduce all skin whitening attemp to trying to look like caucasian? Chinese people have been considering white skin as a beautiful character for hundreds/thousands of years. In that Celestial Empire age, Chinese people hardly saw any caucasion and they thought all foreigners were barbarians. I think for most people it’s purely an esthetic preference.
    Lastly, Ms.Hua, why do we have to be so fragile to get offended by trivias so easily? An obese person would get offended if a slim person stand beside? A short person gets offended if Yao Min stand beside? Why make our lives so bitter? No offence, but I think sometimes people’s sense of insecurity derives from their own inferior complex. Respect ourselves before we expect respect from others. I wish you a very pleasant life.

  11. Hua Jing Li says:

    Wow I obviously offended someone and touched upon some heavy insecurity. People do get worked up over a comment

  12. Hua Jing Li says:

    Btw, what makes you an expert in my culture, if you did than you also know that Chinese surnames are always come first. My name is Jing not Hua, because in Chinese I am called Li Hua Jing

  13. flutter-by says:

    My humble apologies, Ms Li. But there won’t be that confusion if you had named yourself “Huajing Li”.
    BTW, I don’t see how I was offend by any means. Not at all. I come here for fun and thoughts exchange in a bright mode, not for a heated debate competition.
    Good night.

  14. Bittermelon says:

    Several points: 1. How’s this different from breast enhancement, Botox, or hair transplant? 2. There are skin treatments for Black people to lighten their skin, and of course hair straightening. 3. I don’t think those are the kids’ parents. The kids look like they are from the same family, the parents, with or without eye surgery, don’t look like they are related to the kids. 4. Eye lid surgery has been happening in Asia for many many years. Korea is supposed to be the place to get this.

  15. T. says:

    @Bittermelon – its different than other cosmetic surgery, in that small breasts, dark skin and wrinkles are not inherently associated with an ethnic type, whereas narrower eyes are, despite flutter-by’s nonsense, are pretty closely associated with being East Asian.

    Of course those aren’t the kids parent’s. It’s an advertisement.

    And thank you flutter-by, for reducing ethnic taunts and racial mocking to “trivial” I’m glad to know that being made fun growing up is trivial to you.

  16. Heinrich says:

    Oh man I am loving this comment board

  17. WoAi says:

    Wow, I didn’t expect this to generate such a heated discussion!

    @Bittermelon – I think the main issue is the WAY the are advertising their services. Imagine a skin lightening ad for black people showing the two parents with fair skin and three VERY dark, black kids. Now imagine the ad being published in America! There’d be civil war! Even Michael Jackson got a lot of criticism for making his skin lighter from outraged black people, although he claimed it was a skin condition which caused it.

    And of course they aren’t the real parents of the kids. It’s a commercial!!!!

  18. WoAi says:

    Heinrich that’s not fair – you have to share your own opinion on the topic!

  19. Suey says:

    i think its a bloody hilarious advert!

  20. wisemanofasia says:

    Firstly, the advert is ridiculous. Like Woai said, the children look abnormal and, while the parents have what might be considered ‘pretty’ eyes to people in East Asia, their features are still within the spectrum of what can be considered natural. In my opinion the extreme natural with which the children’s eyes have been altered can only mean the advert is supposed to be tongue in cheek.

    Secondly, the advert, as far as I am aware, was produced by a company in E.Asia, probably China, HK or Taiwan. Therefore, I don’t think the advert can be seen as racist, although I do think it might raise questions as to how people in E. Asia view themselves and whether or not this ‘view’ is healthy or sensible. While living in China I constantly heard people referring to their own eyes as ‘small’, something which I found strange at first, but later got used to. I suppose in a way it is the same as people in the west saying ‘slit-eyed’, although the English word is deliberately offensive, whereas the Chinese ‘small’ is not necessarily an insult.

    Like I said, as this is an E.Asian produced advert I don’t think it is racist, and any comparison to similar adverts involving other races in other countries are not particularly valid. For example, would black people, Jewish people etc be offended by tongue in cheek adverts making fun of certain racial features or stereotypes if they were produced by people of their race? It is possible that some would, but perhaps enough people wouldn’t that the adverts could still be used.

    I agree that I don’t think E.Asians are trying to look western. I certainly think that a lot of Chinese people would think the idea of trying to look more western ridiculous. However, I do think that they like big eyes and big noses, which, in comparison, western people just happen to have. On the flip side, I would prefer to have darker skin that wasn’t so sensitive to sunlight etc! Maybe you just always want what you can’t have!

  21. Lil bro says:

    I can’t be the only one who thinks the dad in that poster looks just a little weird. As an ad it doesn’t make me want to rush out and have work done.

  22. b says:

    hmmm, my cousin will have to have this conversation with his twins one day. Their face looks nothing like the father (natural) nor mother (Korean – enough said)

  23. the idea that this advertisement was produced in east asia is even more disturbing in that it supports the idea of/is evident of ‘self hate’. as a commenter above observed – “slanty eyes” are associated with east asians and the idea of “fixing” that characteristic is bothersome because it’s not a physical characteristic that *needs* to be repaired.

    and WOAI you’re right – an advertisement with african americans showcasing “light skinned” parents flanked by dark children would lead to chaos in america . . . because it’s WRONG. and racist.

    just like this ad.

  24. WoAi says:

    All interesting views, but I do not think the fact it’s made by Asians automatically means it’s not racist or offensive. Going back to my black skin analogy, if the ad was made by black people for black people, as a black person I would be offended that someone is implying that dark skin is a disability or affliction that needs to be fixed.

    So I think I’m with Angie on this one. I’m proud of my not so big Asian eyes and it hasn’t disadvantaged me with the ladies in anyway. Luckily, it’s just my eyes that are small!

  25. Swiss James says:

    Loving the controversy!

    I’m trying to think what the equivalent would be for my (white) race- chest waxing maybe?

  26. Kin says:

    I’m not really offended by it but I do think it’s really stupid even if you take the racial perspective out of it. I’m more concerned by the eager promotion of artificial beauty and the kind of stuff that people do to their own body in order to look more beautiful which can also have adverse effects on their health.

    WoAi I think your eyes are about average, typical of southern Chinese.

Comments are closed.