Why Do Asians Have Slanted Eyes?


Almond-shaped eyes. That’s how people describe the slanted Asian eyes.

There’s no denying that Asians’ appearance is unique. They have straight, thick, black hair, slanted eyes, small noses, and wider cheekbones.  These traits make it possible to spot Asians in a crowd.

But why do Asians have these traits while Europeans don’t?

Why Do Asians Have Slanted Eyes?

There are many different factors contributing to the slanted Asian eyes.

The first of these factors is the epicanthic fold, which is a skin fold in the upper eyelid that covers the inner eye corner.

The eyelid is what defines the Asian eyes. It can be a single eyelid, double eyelid, and a low/incomplete eyelid crease.

It’s still unclear why Asians evolved this way. The classical explanation is that it is an adaption to the tropical and arctic regions in which they lived. It acts as a visor against the sun, and also, insulation against the cold.

However, this doesn’t explain it since the trait should’ve disappeared when Asians moved south to areas with a more stable climate.

Also, the epicanthic fold isn’t limited to Asians. It is also present in some Middle Easterners, Indigenous Americans, North Africans, and occasionally Europeans.

Although the location isn’t the only factor causing the squinted eyes, people whose ancestors lived in continental areas (in the middle of a continent) have epicanthic folds, while those whose ancestors lived in coastal areas usually don’t have epicanthic folds.

Epicanthic folds explain the flatter and smaller noses that Asians have since epicanthic folds are associated with a flatter nose bridge.

Another factor that gives the Asians their slanted eyes is the forward-projecting zygomatic arches, which are bony arches at the outer border of the eye socket.

These uniquely Asian traits could be caused by a gene mutation that happened around 30,000 years ago.

A study has found that the physical traits of Asians are attributed to a gene mutation.

The gene is known as EDAR. Both Africans and Europeans have this gene, but in most East Asians one of the DNA units is mutated.But, the truth is Asian eyes aren’t almond-shaped, Caucasians’ eyes are.

But, the truth is Asian eyes aren’t almond-shaped, Caucasians’ eyes are.

They are only called almond-shaped because, in the 1780s, men described beautiful, exotic Asian women as having almond-shaped eyes, and the idea stuck and spread to other literature such as Mark Twain’s “Disgraceful Persecution of a Boy”.

Many Asians Don’t Like Their Eyes

The Western culture changed the image of beauty in the Asian world.

Now, big, bright eyes with double eyelids are considered more beautiful.

Back in the 18th century, Shin Yun-Bok, the famous Joseon era painter, painted The Portrait of Beauty, in which the woman had a round face with a drooping eyelid.

In ancient China, single-folded eyelids and slanted eyes were preferred.

Some Asians believe that the double-eyelid look gives a more energetic look and will improve job prospects.

The first double-eyelid surgery was performed in the 19th century by Mikamo, who is attributed as the father of “Westernizing” surgery.

These days, East Asian blepharoplasty, also known as double eyelid surgery, is common among Asians. It is a plastic surgery that reshapes the skin around the eye to create an eyelid crease and give the eyes a “double eyelid” look.

East Asian blepharoplasty is most common in Taiwan, South Korea, and other parts of East Asia.

The epicanthic fold can be removed, but the surgery to remove it, called Epicanthoplasty, is less common.

For Asians who are looking for a temporary fix, there are eyelid pastes. These allow Asians to hide the epicanthic fold without surgically removing it.