Googly eyes. Maybe you haven't laid peepers on a pair since you glued a set to a pompom head in preschool, or since you winced under the gaze of the Economics professor who left his hyperthyroidism untreated.
But if you're a monster (i.e. a Lady Gaga fan), you've borne witness to a more contemporary set of ogling eyeballs. In her Bad Romance video, Gaga portrays a sensory-deprived victim of the sex trade (i.e. the music industry) who manipulates the system to join forces with the organization.
Near the beginning of Gaga's transformation from a drugged slave to a triumphant member of the organization, she's shown being cleansed and beaten while wearing virginal white and an immaculate shade of strawberry blond hair. These facets speak to her innocence, but none are as powerful as her huge, round, childlike eyes.
Despite the fact that these eyes are not real (they're generated with feature-altering computer software), there are a significant number of women who have set out to mimic Gaga's doe-eyed look. And they're not doing it in 2 dimensions, in photos or on computer screens, but rather in real, 3D existence -- with a controversial trend? led by the large and deceptively-in-charge circle lens.
Eyeballing this Globally Gaga Trend
Lady Gaga certainly isn't the first pop star to initiate a fashion trend. Elvis cajoled more than one shirt button to come undone; Diana Ross teased us with her bouffants; Madonna laced us up with her naughty wedding gown; M.C. Hammer parachuted into our living rooms with his pants; and Olivia Newton John heated more than legs with her gam warmers.
But fashion trends are just that: trends. They're movements that last but a moment in the grand scheme of time. Like the powdered wig and the corset, the bee-hive and the poodle skirt, the oversized sweater and acid-washed jeans?trends fade.
But until the circle lens movement falls off as naturally as Lady Gaga's clothing seems to, it will dwell in global, contemporary culture. First made popular in South Korea, these lenses are manufactured without regulation in Eastern countries, and have been flagged as contraband in the United States. Optometrists and ophthalmologists deem them as unsafe, because they're generically shipped, without proper fitting, and their large size deprives the eye of the oxygen that it must obtain from outside air.
Circle lenses are similar to standard contact lenses, except that they can be purchased in a variety of colors, and their edges extend beyond the natural diameters of human irises, lending their wearers the appearances of larger-than-life eyes.
Like Cyndi Lauper's hair color after 5 washings, the circle lens trend will fade. But in the meantime, pop culture protocol dictates that it's time for those who are minimally affected by the trend to raise voices against it.
The eye doctors have had their say; now it's my turn to speak out against circle lenses?in particular, about how they go against man's evolutionary sense of sexual selection.
The Innocent Eye: Sexual Sabotage
Apart from the health risks and the illegal trade involved with circle lenses, I firmly believe that there's another jurisdiction under which they should be declared illegal: under the law of body language.
Pupil dilation and constriction play significant roles in nonverbal communication, and circle lenses effectively mask those messages.
When you think of pupil dilation, your mind might turn to low lighting or alcohol-induced stupors?and those are both good assessments. But there's another evolutionary purpose for the dilation of the pupil: the communication of sexual arousal.
In a 1998 study by Darren C. Aboyoun and James M. Dabbs, Jr., seventy-seven subjects were shown photos of clothed and nude people. Findings showed that the pupils of the subjects dilated while staring at nude photos of the opposite sex, demonstrating that pupil dilation increases with sexual arousal.
Another study cited the amygdala (portion of the brain responsible for visual learning) as the origin of sympathetic dilation and constriction. In 2008, a group of researchers at Dartmouth College's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience presented twenty-seven men with photos of women's faces. Pupil sizes varied from photo to photo. Faces with larger pupils caused more vigorous responses from the viewers' amygdalas, causing those viewers' pupils to dilate. These results were realized on a subconscious level, because the subjects reported seeing no obvious differences among the "doctored" eyes.
Pupil Dilation Pioneers
Though clinical laboratories were about as rare as bathing in The Middle Ages, that didn't keep Italian women of that period from pursuing their ultimate prizes. Belladonna, also known as Deadly Nightshade, was converted to a liquid and used as drops for the eyes?in order to dilate women's pupils.
Though it increased heart rates, caused distorted vision, made up-close visual examination nearly impossible, and caused sensitivity to light and possible blindness, that didn't stop women from using belladonna to dilate their pupils in order to appeal to the opposite sex.
The drug acted by blocking the receptors in the recipients' eyes, making muscle constriction of the pupils impossible.
If the thought of women squinting, be rendered utterly visionless, moving at the speed of rabbits on caffeine, and still getting the guy because their pupils were wide open doesn't convince you that pupil dilation is important, then I wish you a rockin' good time while you spend this Friday night watching Laurence Welk reruns under a bright, pupil constricting lamp.
In order to translate these studies to your dating life, it can be said that the dilation and constriction of your pupils send messages (even if those messages aren't consciously read) to those whom you are interested in or disinterested in. In other words, your wide-open pupils tell the guy with the biceps, the strong jaw, and the degree in culinary arts that you're diggin' him. And?your constricted pupils tell the drip who missed the Brylcreem-Is-Dead memo that your pupils aren't the only parts of you that are closed.
Additionally, your pupils not only send messages, they elicit responses. When they're open for business, Tall-Dark-and-Endowed's amygdala will stimulate his own pupils, widening them to create a reflective bedroom gaze. In other words, when you look aroused, you are arousing.
Look at these three versions of Lady Gaga's eyes, and pay close attention to your perception of her with each:
1. Ambiguous Pupils: Big-eyed strawberry blonde in the Bad Romance video cleansing chamber
2. Constricted Pupils: Fresh-faced, green-eyed blonde with bat crest on her head in the Bad Romance video.
3. Dilated Pupils: During her interview with Barbara Walters.
Which eyes show the most interest and the highest degree of invitation for interpersonal exchange?
When circle lenses are worn, they detract from the effect of a dilated pupil. Even if a woman's pupils are fully dilated as a result of sexual interest, her suitor will be unlikely to pick up on her body's evolutionary message. Size is relative. A sumo wrestler makes you feel thin when you stand next to him, but when he stands next to an elephant, he suddenly feels the need to seek out the nearest Krispy Kreme, for fear of losing his reputation. And likewise, the size of your eye's pupil is relative to the size of the iris. If the iris is huge, your pupil will never be able to compensate and look large.
Even though a man might compliment your beautiful blue eyes, it's the dead center he's unconsciously interested in. And if your pupil is relatively small in comparison to the iris, the object of your affection is less likely to drown in your eyes. In fact, he's likely to subconsciously read your pool sign as, "Closed for the Season."
Gaga's Gender Breach
Lady Gaga's computer-generated eyes have certainly generated a stir among young women around the world. But how about the men who pursue those women? Are they largely attracted to this look?
First, you should know that Lady Gaga embraces the androgynous look. She enjoys creating the illusion of being neither male nor female. Certainly, circle lenses do not lend themselves to a masculine look, but they absolutely do detract from the package of a sexually mature and interested female.
The Bad Romance video's producers wanted to portray a young woman who was brainwashed, naïve, childlike, and unsophisticated. "Doe-eyed" can be used to describe Gaga's wide-eyed, innocent appearance, but it can also be used to describe the connotation that goes along with that appearance: ignorant, unsuspecting, and inexperienced. I believe that these are hardly the messages that you wish to convey to the opposite sex.
So, in conclusion, if you don't value your eyesight or your clean criminal record; if you are desperate for the affection of needy, doting mothers; and if you would like to steer the attentions of virile men away from you and toward the more mature woman to your left; go ahead and ask Google for your new googly eyes.
But, if you'd like to use your eyes to attract, to capture, to communicate, and to elicit a favorable response from the apple of your eye, then by all means?use your peepers as they have been designed. After all, they are the windows to your soul -- no blinds, curtains, or lenses required.