Race Card: Maybelline

Nadra Kareem Nittle
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Makeup giant Maybelline has a newsletter of sorts in which consumers answer a few questions and get tips on choosing products most suitable for their look. An Asian-Canadian blogger who uses the moniker Rasilla was happy enough to answer Maybelline’s questions about her appearance. But after choosing “brown” for eye-color, Rasilla was asked to select the shape of her eyes. Her options? Close set, wide set, hooded, Asian, almond, down-turned, deep-set, prominent and centered. Let’s backtrack for a moment. One of the options was Asian. That’s right, Asian. Rasilla wasn’t too pleased about this.

“No. 1,” she explains in a YouTube video, “Asian people don’t have just one type of eye-shape, okay.”

Rasilla became even more irritated after reading Maybelline’s description of “Asian eyes.” The company characterized them as having “a distinctive lift at the outer corner and very little lid.”

Rasilla objected to this because she knows “a lot of girls who don’t have this so-called ‘Asian eyes’… I know girls who have naturally double eye-lids, who have big eyes…without having any work done,” she explained.

Not only do Asians have different eye-shapes—a fact that should be obvious—their eyes can fall into Maybelline’s other categories for eye-shape—wide set, centered, close set, etc. So, which box would an Asian woman with wide-set eyes check for Maybelline’s newsletter? Does her Asianness supersede the fact that her eyes are far apart, or vice versa?

Fortunately, Rasilla didn’t just rant about Maybelline’s racial generalization, she tweeted the company about her concerns with their “Asian Eyes” category. A Maybelline Canada representative apologized for the faux pas, and the company has since renamed its “Asian Eyes” category “almond eyes with no visible crease.” Rasilla described the victory as not “the greatest,” but at least she contributed to the company’s decision to refrain from openly racially stereotyping.

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the tip.

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2 Comments Have Been Posted

That's crazy that they named

That's crazy that they named the category "Asian Eyes." In addition to Asian women having different types of eyes, women who are not Asian can also have eyes that are this shape. Many women in my family have eyes that look like this and we are not Asian. I'm glad they at least changed the category name when it was brought to their attention.

Asian Eyes

I noticed last year, when a friend of mine began selling mary kay, that they also use the shape description "asian eyes" both in their brochures and online.

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