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Last week, a YouTube video surfaced of former plus-size model Crystal Renn–no stranger to controversy vis-à-vis physical transformation–taping her eyes back in what appeared to be an attempt to look Asian during a Vogue Nippon photo shoot.
While Refinery 29 wondered if eye-taping wasn’t akin to blackface, a disturbing phenomenon that’s reared its ugly head in recent photo shoots, Renn tried to clear things up this week in an interview with Jezebel, maintaining that eye-taping is a model trick frequently used to achieve a “straight brow” (as opposed to an Asian eye):
No one told me at the shoot to tape. It is something that I often do to add to the look of the character if I feel that the look makes sense, and often I suggest it. I have very heavy brows, and they’re more curved than straight, and sometimes when you’re doing a character it might require more of a straight brow. Which sounds like such a small detail, but it can completely transform the face. Lots of actresses do this, models do this — I don’t know how willing models usually are to do it, or if other people suggest it, but I am willing, and I even bring [tape] it in my own kit.
Even though Renn seems sincere, since eye-taping was employed for so many years as a way to make white actors look Asian–in the place of actually hiring Asians–I’m not sure it can ever escape its racist connotations. In fact, in the same interview with Renn, Jezebel points out that eye-taping isn’t even a thing of the past.
So what’s a would-be eye-taper to do?
What Asians have been doing for decades to achieve a, ahem, “curved brow.”
Yes, I mean eyelid surgery, but reverse-engineered:
Extreme, sure. Though people will be too awed by the commitment this sort of body modificasian requires to ever think it’s racist. And it may be expensive, but think of the money one could save over a lifetime on tape!
Or, you know, Vogue Nippon could just hire an Asian model with a naturally “straight brow” the next time and avoid this sticky situation altogether.
Special thanks to Helen for creating “Crystal Wenn”!
Filed under: Asians and Plastic Surgery, Body Modification, Crystal Renn, Crystal Renn Eye-Taping Vogue Nippon, Dolce & Gabbana, Eye-Taping, Eyelid Surgery, Fashion, Fashism, History of Yellowface, Liu Wen, Plastic Surgery, Racial Drag, Racism in Fashion, Vogue, Vogue Nippon, White People Trying to Look Asian, Yellowface