By Emma Park

February 14, 2022

I have monolids. Mono as in “one”. One-lid. No crease.

Eye-shape seems to be a resurrectable conversation topic with my Asian friends. Which of us have been “blessed by the heavens above” with that little fold in their eyelid– which of us “unfortunate souls” have been cursed to bear the weight of hooded eyes. 

It’s so hard to do makeup without a crease, we complain. 

I wish my eyes were bigger, someone says. Admittedly that someone is sometimes me. 

We discuss surgery, surgery, surgery. Then–

Monolids are trending, someone usually points out, and in that moment, it’s almost embarrassing how relieved I feel. How fortunate for me, that I can live in a time when monolids are considered fashionable.

I have been told I would look better with double lids, but I never took it very seriously. However, late one night last week, I found myself falling down a YouTube rabbit hole of post-op double eyelid surgery vlogs. It was just this train of mono-lidded girls, entering the video with one lid, and by the end emerging all creased and wide-eyed. Of course they were pretty before the surgery, but they all came out at the end seeming happier, almost brighter. I felt like I was being made to consider doing something I had not been mentally prepared to consider.

I started thinking about how my mother noticeably widens her eyes in photographs. How I sometimes consciously lift my eyelids so nobody catches my resting face. My friend’s nightly double-eyelid tape routine. It’s a lot of energy.

Then I wondered if changing my eyes would be exchanging something by way of my identity. I’ve been told I have a “Korean face”. Is part of that my eyes? For me, personally, I grew up linking my physical appearance to my cultural identity, explaining my appearance or almost justifying it to other kids who wondered if I “can see,” or “where my eyelashes are”. Monolids have the potential to carry so much cultural implication. Would how I view myself as a Korean American change if I changed my eyes? Koreans in Korea “fix” their monolids all the time. Girls get surgery as their graduation present. Sometimes when you watch K-dramas, you can see fine incision lines when the actors close their eyes. If I really wanted to, I could– 

To be completely honest, I’ve been turning the possibilities over in my head for a while now, and I think I’ve managed to reach a state of ambivalence. If the girls in those vlogs are happier with their double-lids, then they made the right decision for themselves and I’m glad. 

But in my head, I think I’ve linked my mono-lidded eyes to my Korean Americanness, and until I detangle that connection for myself, my monolids are probably here to stay.