November 9, 2023 | OPINION | By Charlotte Maley
Anyone that’s been on TikTok in the last few weeks has likely had to reckon with their canthal tilt. A canthal tilt, for those lucky few who are unfamiliar with this trend, refers to the angle between the corners of one’s inner and outer eye. According to incels and Jordan Peterson-like TikTok alleged scientists, canthal tilts are a key contributor to how attractive others find you.
The newfound prominence of canthal tilts can be attributed to the rising dominance of incel attractiveness theory on platforms like TikTok and Reddit, which sees male/female sexual interaction politics as being heavily influenced by predator-prey dynamics.
Incels, otherwise known as involuntary celibates, are obsessed with creating theories of sexual attraction and of why certain individuals fail the mating game. The incel ideology, in short, tends to categorize male attractiveness based on predator-, or ‘hunter-,’ like physical features and, conversely, female attractiveness based on prey like corporeal attributes.
For example, men are physically attractive if they have large musculature, it suggests an ability to dominate one’s romantic partner the way that a predator would be able to catch their prey (cue the eyeroll). Naturally, the incel-influenced-media has become obsessed with canthal tilts, because they are said to contribute to a person’s overall appearance of seeming either dominant or submissive – mysterious or open.
According to incel attractiveness theory, attractive men have a negative canthal tilt where attractive women have a positive canthal tilt. A negative canthal tilt makes the eyes appear downturned, making one appear more aggressive, while a positive canthal tilt gives one a more youthful and upturned look, making them seem wide eyed and ‘scared.’ Think of it like wolf eyes versus fox eyes.
Although the incels introduced the canthal tilt as a means of reinforcing their binary attractiveness theory, TikTok and Reddit users have been avid in their quest to point out celebrities that don’t satisfy this formula. For example, many people have noted that actresses such as Anne Hathaway and Sydney Sweeney, who are widely considered beautiful women, have neutral or even negative canthal tilts.
Many plastic surgeons agree that, on men, negative canthal tilts make people look more tired, and therefore less attractive. Once again, the incels have failed to propose an absolute rule of attractiveness that would explain their inability to get laid.
The popularity that canthal tilt politics have gained on TikTok and Reddit, unlike the incels’ inability to prove their problematic social theories, is no laughing matter, for it is proof that misogynistic philosophies are able to attract significant traction on commonly used social media platforms and are successfully making it into the minds of the American public.
For every video that I see of a girl doing her makeup in an attempt to upturn her eyes, or a man explaining that he pulls because he got ‘hunter eye’ plastic surgery, I am positive that there is a person somewhere that is internalizing these claims and collecting the evidence in support of an outdated theory of sexual attraction that forefronts traits of domination or submission as being the primary explanations for human mating behavior.
When social media claims that one trait is universally more attractive than another, it is essential to examine the potential social agendas which may exist behind these propositions and determine whether it is something regressive or progressive.