The Under-Eye Trend of TikTok

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In December, Sara Carstens, a model and creator on social media, reached for a brownish lipstick and swiped it beneath her eyes where she would typically apply concealer, posting the footage to TikTok.

“The entire goal is to normalize dark circles,” Ms. Carstens, 19, said in an interview. She wants them to be considered not ugly but “normal.”

“Sometimes, it can be beautiful,” Ms. Carstens said. Plus, “we’re Gen Z. We’re all tired and have bad sleeping schedules.”

Her dark circles video has been viewed more than seven million times on TikTok since it was posted, and has circulated on other social media platforms including Instagram. Models, makeup artists and other content creators have also emulated the cosmetic effect — a rejoinder to anyone who might suggest such facial characteristics should be hidden.

Ms. Carstens said she was inspired by the “femboy aesthetic” — using makeup to accentuate one’s cheekbones, nose bridges and under-eye hollows to an angular, androgynous effect (think Timothée Chalamet). The look has been popularized by nonbinary creators like Tatiana Ringsby who defined the aesthetic as “expressing femininity without the pressure of exuding femininity.” It’s a term the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. community and others use to define a form of expression that blurs the lines between genders.

“It’s a trend for some people, for others it’s who they are,” Mx. Ringsby said. “I think it’s a beautiful thing to accentuate something we’re insecure about.”

Some experts think this trend is more than just a polarizing fad though, and that it might actually say something about society and the moment we are all living through.

“There’s a sort of a world weariness that these younger women might want to be expressing through this,” said Rachel Weingarten, a beauty historian and author of the book “Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ’40s-’60s.”

There are some forebears of this trend, most notably Marchesa Luisa Casati, an Italian heiress and muse to artists including Man Ray, who famously encircled her eyes with kohl — an act Ms. Weingarten called “a middle finger to the expectation of women’s beauty.” But, according to Ms. Weingarten, the dark circles phenomenon is distinct from unconventional beauty trends, including the French concept of “jolie laide,” which refers to attractiveness that is aided by imperfections, flaws or uncommon features.

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