Hooded Eyes & Shedding Weight

I recently learned via a series of makeup tutorials on Youtube that the shape of my eyes, or more precisely my eyelids, is considered to be a difficult misfortune in the makeup world.  There's even a special term for them: they are "hooded eyes."

Hooded eyes are eyes which have a very deep eyelid crease, sometimes to the extent that the fold of the eyelid comes all the way down to the lash line when the eyes are fully open.  Hooded eyes can look small or puffy because there is so much skin from lash line to brow (think Renee Zellweger).  Also, because the crease of the lid is so deep, eye shadows and eyeliners tend to be concealed, or "hooded," by the eyelid, making it difficult for people with hooded eyes to wear eye makeup well.

Before I saw these videos three weeks ago, the concept of hooded eyes--the very fact that there is a hooded eye delineation--was completely unknown to me.  I had no idea that, all my life, makeup artists and perhaps others had been looking at me and my hooded eyes with pity, possibly scorn.  Since this realization, I am having great difficulty seeing myself without also seeing "hooded eyes." Suddenly, this term is occupying far more of my cognitive space than I think it warrants or deserves.

When I was in the second grade, I sat beside a boy named Jeremy.  One day, without warning, Jeremy looked down into my lap and remarked on the girth of my thighs.  I don't remember his exact words, but I remember my reaction well.  At first, I was stunned.  At eight years old, it had not occurred to me to be concerned about the size or shape of my thighs.  All I knew then was that I was strong--as strong as all the boys, and just as fast.  I always held my own in wrestling matches or fights on the playground, and often won the footraces at recess.  As the idea that the size of my thighs somehow mattered and that mine were too big began to sink in, I felt myself begin to fill with red-faced shame.  Desperately, I placed a notebook over my lap to conceal my thighs before anyone else could have a chance to marvel at their enormity.  When the time came to go home that afternoon, I tried to pulled my jacket down over my legs to cover up.

Jeremy's insensitive proclamation, however innocent it might have been, changed my life forever.  Through this first tender wound, ideas like "wear dark colors because they're slimming" and "only thin girls look good in shorts" began to seep into my consciousness.  Gradually, I began to scrutinize and question the attractiveness of every square inch of my body.  My breasts were too small.  My belly was too big.  My arms were too thick and my hair was too curly.  It became clear rather quickly that I was not pretty enough and that being an attractive person would require a lot of work--I would need to eat very little or purge somehow if I didn't have the self control.  I would have to wear makeup every day to conceal the imperfections on my skin, and dress in carefully selected clothing to create the illusion of an attractive figure.

As I progressed through junior high and high school, the message that my value as an individual hung on these details became louder and more distinct.  With so much of my mental energy swarming around my insecurities and appearance, there was little remaining at this important developmental stage to recognize the things that I was good at, to practice the things I truly loved, or experience the things that made me feel human.  My growth was stunted by the burden of needing to be beautiful, my spirit crushed by the weight of worrying that I was not. Sadly, I would not be able to shed this weight for many years to come.  Even more sadly, perhaps I never will.  Here I am at nearly thirty years of age, stumbling upon new ways in which I am not good enough.  Somehow, through all the years of paralyzing judgment, I had never found cause to dislike my facial features.  Now, there's a term for my eyes. 

Of course, the yoga has been a force of truth in my relationship to self and body.  Through practice, I have shed so much illusion; I have learned that I am so much infinitely more than shape and size because I have observed within.  In time, I will forget about my hooded eyes, but I will always remember this: The body is soil to the seed of my consciousness.  I am reborn in the sweetness of body over and over again. 


  1. Enjoyed this post. I get so pissed off when I think about how women are conditioned to learn that their bodies/looks are never good enough and that the body should be a permanent full time project to be changed, bettered, plucked, manipulated, shaped, toned etc. etc.
    I was also alerted by others about the few hairs on my belly, around my belly button, and that I should pluck them. Before that I had never given them a thought, they were just part of me. And then the other day my hairy legs became the topic at a barbecue: for goodness sakes, are there not more interesting and pressing matters to discuss!?! I get so pissed off and yoga has helped me to firmly know that my body is to be cherished in what it can do and not in how it looks.
    Lets just carry on doing yoga... to still the mind and to not get caught up in these ways of the world.

  2. Wow. I can't even put the feelings into words yet, but the recognition runs deep. Tears are flowing. Your writing is always so powerful.

  3. Love the moments when we as people say "me too!" Me too to everything you've written here. Me too (including discovering the term for my eyes. Get it from my grandma - she had the same)

  4. I’m going to join in with Alice and comment to your post by saying, “ME TOO” to everything you’ve mentioned including the hooded eyes. I get them from my mother. Now that I’m 50 years old they are much more apparent. I gave up on eye makeup years ago. Having reached this age though, I’m much more accepting of my “faults.” I’m also more accepting of by abilities and limitations when it comes to yoga and find that honoring my body is a bit easier. Thank you Megan for your thoughts, writings, and extremely useful yoga advice, photos, and instructions. Your website is a wonderful resource and provides me with so much inspiration.

    P.S. I love the new look!

  5. Britta - The bullshit fed to women (and increasingly to men) is enraging to me too when I think about how pervasive it is. "You're not good enough" is a multi-billion dollar industry. Indeed, we must practice as a way of washing off the labels with which we are constantly affixed by media and culture.

    Dottie & Alice - Thank you. It is somehow both sad and reassuring to know how many will recognize this pattern.

    Evonne - Thank you so much for the kind, thoughtful comment. I am delighted you approve of the new look!

  6. Megan join the "in" crowd, I never made "the cut" either. As a brown skinned girl in my community I'll never be truly "in". But you and I are authentically beautiful, uniquely creative and VALUABLE. I LOVE the way Holy Yoga put in in their newsletter this month, and how very timely! lol!:

    "Inspire Authenticity

    Last month we looked at cultivating community, and what is more essential to real community than putting our real selves into it? Authenticity means, “the quality of being authentic; genuineness.” While our culture is one of “cookie cutter” ideals, our God is the God of originals. He never intended for any one of us to look or act the same as another. He’s far more creative than that.

    Doing this takes faith. If this were easy, there would be a lot more authenticity in the world, but the truth is, we are surrounded by people who are just trying to find their place. They believe that doing so means they must change to fit a certain mold. As Christ’s ambassadors and the adopted children of the King, our “place” is right smack in the middle of His will, and the only way we can get there is by saying “yes” to the man or woman He designed us to be and by living out our day to day with acceptance and gratitude for His originality."

    I hope this encourages and inspires you to keep on that wonderful uniquely beautiful road you are already on! :)

  7. ... and here's a short list of beauties with hooded eyes that you are in good company with:
    Emma Stone
    Faye Dunaway
    Jennifer Lawrence
    Kate Moss
    Lauren Bacall
    ... sweet!!

  8. Arrgghh! the curse of the Hooded Eyes!!! Who cares! that's what yoga teaches me. I'm not my body. I'm not my thoughts. And I'm certainly not my hooded eyes. Which, by the way , get more and more hooded as I age.... Yikes!!...Great blog. Great new look.... oh yeah.... and great looking hooded eyes. Glad you could join this elite club... Pity but it's open only to those of us with the gift....Cheers... livin' life with out all the serious finger poking works for me...

  9. Thank you. I needed this. My mother has always projected her own body issues on to me. She still makes comments about how I have "her knees" and it bothers me to no end. As a teenager, I believed these things. But now, as a runner and yogini, I can see that it's not true. I love my knees -- they are strong and carry me through both activities with no injuries -- but it took me years to love myself despite her comments. It only takes one word, though, to send me reeling. While in my 30's, and suffering from depression (and clocking in at 20 pounds underweight), she said "if you don't get your weight under control before you turn 40 you never will." At the time, I took it to mean she thought I was fat, and it scared me. But now, I see it as her own insecurity. She always sees herself as overweight (even though she isn't) and projects that on to me.

    It's hurtful and worrisome, but yoga has given me the strength to move past her words and in to my own truth. Stay strong. You are beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. That is such a powerful perspective; the way our mothers feel about themselves is often projected onto us, I think. This is just another way that this cycle of oppression is perpetuated.

  10. "The body is soil to the seed of my consciousness. I am reborn in the sweetness of body over and over again." - beautiful!

    I stumbled upon your blog tonight in searching for the formal physical "benefits" of utpluthih, and I adore what I'm reading! Seems like we have much in common. I'll be back to read more! Namaste!

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I'm so glad you found the blog.

  11. Hmm, Have you looked at a photo of Sharath Jois recently? Check the eyes. I get what you are saying though. How do we seed our minds and our culture to see the joy in our physical form? Where is the line between taking sufficient care of our appearance and hygiene to be pleasant company for others, and making our perception of our physical form into a tool for suffering and anguish? Thanks for 'stirring our minds' on this one.

  12. Renee Zellweger was beautifully unique with her original, natural eyes (in combination with the rest of her facial features). She lost that special quality when she got plastic surgery. I wouldn't recognize her in a crowd anymore. She doesn't look better (or younger), just different.

    Same with a woman I knew who got plastic surgery to counter the effects of aging. She didn't look younger (or better), just different.

    Regarding criticism, whether from classmates or from parents, read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. His second agreement: Don't take anything personally. It is a simple but challenging proposition, but it could transform our lives.

    1. Hi YogaSpy. Regarding Renee Zellweger's new look, I completely agree. In fact, I hadn't known she had changed her face until I looked her up to verify the correct spelling of her name for this post. Quite the sad realization, I had adored her distinctive face. On that note, I always had the biggest crush on Portia de Rossi--loved her strong, expressive features--and nearly spiraled into depression when I saw her for the first time on post-op. On the one hand, everyone has a right to look however they want, but it does make one wonder what compels such drastic and undoubtedly painful procedures.

      A respected local teacher told me never to take anything personally when I started teaching public classes, and it has been a personal mantra ever since. Easier said than done, perhaps, but important to know nonetheless. Wish I'd learned it sooner. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.