Epicanthic Folds

You’ve heard of epicanthic folds?  Well of course you have. They are skin of the upper eyelid that covers the inner corner of the eye. Epicanthic folds are largely responsible for the distinctive “Asian” facial appearance that is so often mocked or viewed with appreciative awe by Westerners.

I know this only because I heard something, probably on NPR, and decided to do some follow-up after the program.

The distinctive appearance of epicanthic folds makes me wonder how and why humans evolved in different ways. Light skin versus dark skin; blue eyes versus brown eyes; Roman noses versus pug noses; etc., etc., etc.  Many explanations exist; they are all theories, not necessarily facts.

I considered writing a story about a little boy, born to Scandanavian parents, who has distinct epicanthic folds. The story would unfold as a mystery with suggestions that the mother might have been unfaithful. But it would become apparent that was not the reason for for the eye feature. It would unfold as a simple physical deviation from the Scandanavian norm.  But before that unfolding, the boy and his parents would go through an enormous volume of shame and accusations.

Why does it all have to come back to the ugly reality? We fear and distrust people and things unlike us.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Epicanthic Folds

  1. You are far better educated than I, Robin! But I am fascinated by science, too. I did a bit more reading about epicanthic folds and discovered what you’d already said. Amazing, isn’t it? The world is a playground of wonder!

  2. robin andrea says:

    When I was studying Physical Anthropology in college, I loved reading about epicanthic folds. I remember reading something back then that suggested the folds may have provided some protection from major sand-blowing winds and that was perhaps why it was an evolutionary selection. In the same way that skin and eye color provide safety from or for more or less sunlight. We are just humans who evolved with particular physical features that assisted our survival given the environments we were in. I LOVE SCIENCE!

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