At one point or another, many Asian Americans — typically those of East Asian descent — have endured some form of racism targeting the shape of their eyes. But for TikToker Brian Xu, his inability to widen his eyes isn’t just a stereotypical racist assumption, as he revealed on the platform that there may be an underlying medical condition to explain it.
In a viral video posted earlier this month, Xu explained that he cannot widen his eyes without raising his eyebrows to lift up his eyelids.
“I received a DM that said ‘You might have a condition called ptosis’” Xu said, adding that this unidentified person also sent over a “bunny diagram” as a reference.
The drawing of the bunny shows an outstretched hand covering its forehead, and Xu went on to explain how it made him suspect a possible underlying condition: “If you place your hand over your forehead, can you open your eyes wider without flexing your forehead?”
After demonstrating that he wasn’t in fact able to widen his eyes with his hand placed on his forehead, Xu exclaimed, “Racist folks making fun of my Asian eyes all my life made me not notice a medical condition!”
With many expressing doubt towards Xu in the comments, he followed up in another video that showed the way another person of Asian descent was able to widen their eyes without the aid of their forehead muscles.
Later on, a Black creator expressed how happy he was that Xu’s video brought attention to the condition, because people mistook his case of ptosis for having a lazy eye while growing up.
Xu, a data scientist for LinkedIn, has made himself known on the platform with over 1 million followers for his deadpan delivery in satirical videos.
Ptosis is a condition that causes drooping of the upper eyelid over the eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. While people may be born with the condition due to problems with the muscle that is meant to lift the eyelid, ptosis can also develop in adulthood if the muscle were to stretch or be separated from the eyelid. Further evaluation from a healthcare professional would be required to determine a proper diagnosis and treatment course.
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