The eyes have it

Big-eyed goddess Vicki Zhao vs. Shen Weifeng

Business journalist Shen Weifeng is known for her columns about workplace life, and a book that applies the characters and situations in Dream of the Red Mansions to the modern office. She wrote a follow-up book that drew on the characters in Louis Cha's novels, and this year wrote about how Taobao toppled eBay.

That's not what we're looking at today, however. In last week's issue of China Newsweek, Shen wrote a short piece about the quest for larger eyes:

The big secret of small eyes

by Shen Weifeng

Though the first and second leading ladies in a novel may be described in detail, it all boils down to this: one is slender, the other full-figured; one has character, the other has looks. And perhaps there's one more thing to add so that everyone can come to a conclusion: one has small eyes, the other has big eyes. Hence, one could draw the conclusion that, hey, this is the traditional Chinese standard of beauty: big-eyed girls are more beautiful.

I unconditionally support this conclusion. It was in the second grade that I first heard that the world contained such things as "single eyelids" and "double eyelids," whereupon I went home and asked my mother what double eyelids were. She could find no good examples to show to me, however, and from then on my destiny was apart from double eyelids. At the same time, this also meant that from then on I was fated to have nothing to do with big eyes.

I didn't really care much about it myself. Besides, over a couple of decades, there have always been people to soothe me with true compassion or false intentions, telling me that single eyelids, so unique and special, are all the rage. So the days passed, one by one. Of course, I knew that they were lying to me. According to their words, single eyelids have been popular for who knows how many years now, but they've never broken into the mainstream of social popularity. Getting surgery for double eyelids doesn't even rate as a face-lift today. But then I had to go on a few TV shows, and when they were broadcast, I planted myself on a short stool in front of the TV, waiting idiotically to see myself. When my scene came, I turned off the TV in a flash and said to myself, "it's just an illusion. Definitely just an illusion. That eyeless face that filled the screen wasn't me. It couldn't have been me."

Before the echo of my words had dissipated, the telephone rang. A relative whom I had not instructed to watch TV telephoned to say, "I saw you! You look prettier on TV!" I sulked for a few days, and then studied the TV intently for a few days. Finally I came to believe the saying that according to scientific research, when someone looks at themselves in a mirror, they find themselves 30% more beautiful than they really are. I thought that my brain had probably automatically PSed my eyes to make them 30% bigger than they really were.

But then isn't there a way to do that PS job in real life? I timidly asked a beautiful friend of mine for help. She's a TV host, but what surprised me was that her eyes are single lidded. She told me that the secret was to apply eyeliner, to apply it like mad - enlarge the boundary of your eye sockets by 30%, and you're there, right? Such sweet wisdom. I was ready to try it out when her boyfriend, a professional cinematographer, warned me to be cautious with that method. He said that using makeup techniques to enlarge the eyes is a professional skill. If I could do it by myself at home, then all those makeup artists would be out of a job.

"Eye makeup is really important you know," he said. "Those stars have big enough eyes already, but would they dare go on screen with naked eyes? They put on four or five layers of makeup and then fake eyelashes, double-eyelid tape, and contacts. Not a one can be left out. Good stuff. It takes an hour or two to put on. As for you..." He carefully studied me, and then shook his head. "You've got two roads. One, go and get surgery; two, forget your dreams of being a beauty."

Links and Sources
  • China Newsweek, 2007.09.03, issue 338. 沈威风, 《小眼睛的大秘密》.
  • Image of Zhao Wei from cns
  • Image of Shen Weifeng from Fei Report
There are currently 7 Comments for The eyes have it.

Comments on The eyes have it

If they can make Dong Fang Bu Bai hot with makeup (and photoshop) I'm sure they can make anyone hot.

Cattle have large dark eyes with long eyelashes, as do ostriches, for that matter - although there are certain differences in figure, and personality. However, I can't find any basis to claim either as more beautiful than, say, the eyespots on moths.

Comparing the photos above, my first impression is simply that one looks more natural than the other, which to me is also more appealing. I personally don't see how it improves one's appearance to look more like a character from Japanese Anime, but I suppose it goes with what the old lady said as she kissed the cow.


Du Yisa: You don't say which of the photos you find more natural; one is a candid paparazzi shot, while the other is posed, but that's probably not what is typically meant by "natural."

Anyway, in most glamor shots, Zhao Wei looks pretty good, while Shen Weifeng doesn't usually look quite so much like that other famous (small-eyed) star.

Wow, rebuttal! Well, the left image is only 'candid' within the limits of a highly contrived context, assuming it had been captured at a media event during which Ms Zhao fully expected to be photographed, and presented herself accordingly. While the precise instant each shot was taken might not have been predetermined for either image, the general timing, angle, and conditions were apparently controlled in both cases. I would therefore suggest that both photos are 'posed'.

You called my use of the word 'natural' into question, and I have now done the same for your use of the words 'candid' and 'posed'. So there! This could develop into an interesting conversation about imagery, photography, media, beauty, etc. if anyone wants to take it that way. As an aside, when I used the word 'natural' in my previous comment, what caught my eye was primarily the difference in lighting between the two images, although this wasn't the only reason I chose it.

Back to work. Thanks Joel.


Du Yisa:

Ostriches, perhaps because of their long eyelashes and big eyes, are much tastier than cows, and much leaner.

I find this fascination with big eyes on par with skin whitening while white people consider someone with bug eyes and pasty skin to be a drug fiend or psychotic.

BTW, female Asian celebrities with apparently "big eyes" may also be on speed.

my guess is that du yisa has wife with small eyes. no prizes for guessing my other half's are big.

and lamb kebab, was that BTW a joke? Do you have a sense of humour? danwei can be so educational at times. a real it's too bad.

I prefer Shen Weifeng's face even though I realize that Zhao Wei must be beautiful in real life and men like her. Also, I think she is part Jewish. My mother has big eyes and my father has tiny eyes and I have one of each. I don't think big eyes mean anything at all to me. Teeny tiny ones are very cute.

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