[By Nadia Seow]
Of all the strange outfits and accessories Lady Gaga wore in her “Bad Romance” video, who would have guessed that the look that would catch fire would be the huge anime-style eyes she flashed in the bathtub?
Opticians say teenagers are risking their eyesight by wearing a controversial contact lens to make their eyes look bigger. The trend started after Lady Gaga’s music video, Bad Romance, hit screens last year. In the video, the singer’s eyes have been digitally altered to make them look bigger and bolder. Over in Asia, the trend of achieving what is popularly known as “anime” eyes have been around for some time as young women dress to appear doll-like in a bid to imitate Barbie.
The lenses give wearers a childlike, doe-eyed appearance. The look is characteristic of Japanese anime and is also popular in Korea. Fame-seekers there called “ulzzang girls” post cute but sexy head shots of themselves online, nearly always wearing circle lenses to accentuate their eyes. (“Ulzzang” means “best face” in Korean, but it is also shorthand for “pretty.”)
Known as circle lenses, these are colored contacts — sometimes in cutesy shades such as violet and pink — that make the eyes appear larger because they cover not just the iris, as normal lenses do, but also part of the whites.
It is illegal to sell these lenses in the US because they are yet to be approved by FDA, but they are readily available online. Available in a variety of colours including bright pink and red, they retail for around $30-50.
However, not all are fans of this ‘doll-eye’ craze. Opticians are worried about the lack of quality control, warning that they may lead to problems like eye infections, damage to vision, and even loss of vision.
While eye doctors stress that contact lenses should only be purchased after an optician has approved a prescription, companies retailing such lenses
believe the product is safe and has been approved by officials in Asia.
Two years ago, Michelle Phan, a makeup enthusiast from USA introduced many Americans to circle lenses through a video tutorial on YouTube, where she demonstrates how to get “crazy, googly Lady Gaga eyes.” Ms. Phan’s video, called “Lady Gaga Bad Romance Look,” has been viewed more than 29 million times.
Watch the video here
So, are these lenses here to stay? The forces of beauty and safety seem to be waging their eternal battle. I say the jury is still out on this one.