Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Lazy Eye" Vent against America's Next Top Model

I really dislike the term Lazy Eye on so many levels. I mean, I "get it" why it is called Lazy theory. But, I feel like it is such a negative term. Lazy is as Lazy does, and my child who happens to have a Lazy eye is anything BUT lazy.

Amblyopia, or Lazy Eye, is a brain thing. The weaker eye shuts off because the strong eye is doing all the work. But, the term Lazy Eye has become a "catch all" term when anything "wrong" with someone's eye and is mis-used more often than not. The term Lazy Eye is thrown around a lot used when referring to an eye that crosses in, floats out, is unable to focus - or what have you. Even worse, when it is referred to as "crazy eye" or somehow implies that the person is drunk, dumb, or both. More negative, negative negative. I have had ENOUGH of the negative!

So, what prompted my rant today...

Last night on America's Next Top Model - Yes, I do watch this show - they were throwing around the word Lazy Eye throughout the episode. In addition to this being the "petite" season - it turns out that one of the contestants, Jennifer has an eye condition called Ptosis. Ptosis is a muscular condition most often associated with a 'droopy eyelid'. Jennifer doesn't have a full range of motion in her left eye and in several of the interviews she mentions that she hopes it doesn't affect her in the competition. She mentions trying to overcome it in pictures by raising up her eyebrows (which are also asymmetrical). Of course, in the episode where they deal with "Smiling with your eyes" (Smeyes) this will play a part...

After an interview with Nigel (a judge) and Sean Patterson of Wilhelmina models -- Sean says "she has a little bit of a lazy eye" and Nigel pipes back "She definitely has a lazy eye".

newsflash CW network: SHE DOESN'T HAVE A LAZY EYE!!!!

Then during the photo shoot, Jay Manuel says that she looks "a wee bit drunk"... "What makes it drunk is that eye is half closed from this side" (complete with gestures!).

I wanted to smack him at this point.

Jennifer goes on to explain to him about her medical condition including saying that it is called Ptosis and that it is not really a functioning muscle. She tries again and asks if it is better. His response is "a little better... Work on it". Then during her photo shoot he calls her expression "Forced" when she is asked to smile with her eyes.

He makes me mad.

During judging they say that 'her eyes almost look uneven'. Jennifer shares she has had surgery on her one eye and then the judges & Tyra offer some constructive feedback about working with the make-up artist or twisting the head, opening it up wider... basically to "figure it out". I'm ok with this, but it didn't redeem all the previous comments aired in the episode.

Now, I know this is a beauty competition and reality TV. Still, I'm bothered.

I just think there is a real opportunity for education and creating awareness about vision issues and the network should at least use proper terminology and get their facts straight. Jennifer, the only Asian in the competition, has explained that this is a muscular condition called Ptosis and here the judges keep referring to her as looking drunk, squinting, talking behind her back that she has a Lazy Eye.

Shaking my head.

I'm writing a letter to the CW network and Tyra.

Yes, really I am. Anyone else want to join me?


  1. I can understand that in that line of work, they need models to be hire-able, and with an eye condition like that, it may not happen. They are right, there are ways to try and work around it, but do they need to be so insensitive about it? When I watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic", I was so crushed when the gal said she bought something from the girl with the lazy eye because she felt sorry for her. Don't feel sorry for my girl! She knows how important, smart, and beautiful she is. How lucky we are as mothers to teach our daughters that. When I watch Tyra's talk show she's all about trying to make everyone feel beautiful and building the confidence of young girls, but when they are disrespectful to others with eye problems, it doesn't add up.

  2. I am fricken with you!! I get so damned tired of explainging refractive amblyopia...My kids eye doesn't even "look" lazy, darnit...makes me so mad!

  3. Well, the reality is for most people "lazy eye" is just a catch-all phrase to mean almost anything that is wrong or asymmetrical. To some it is amblyopia, or strabismus, or ptosis. Some people will have a lot high prescription or a lot of astigmatism and even though they can see 20/20 with their glasses, they still call it the "lazy eye."

    If it makes you feel better, write the letter, but just know the problem is much bigger than ANTM

    -Dr. B

  4. I wish I could see a clip of this on Youtube or see a rerun to catch the extent of the ptosis. It's not all that uncommon for East Asians to talk about having something like this, although it's usually described as having the eyelid fold disappear. And yes, the vast majority of women with the condition have cosmetic surgery because they don't want to deal with comments like these.

    It's one thing for them to say that the condition could be a challenge in the modeling world and another for them to say mean things about her.

  5. Yes, that is exactly it. I "get it" that this is the modeling industry but the manner they went about addressing it didn't sit right with me. "your eyes look uneven in this shot.. is this just like some kind of wierd picture" (one of the judges says...). She matter of factly responded, No - they ARE uneven :) I think it was the comment where they said she looked drunk and then he made an expression/gesture mocking it and pointing at the eye was what tipped me over the edge.

  6. I will whoop an ass with words. You just tell me where to send it.

  7. Aspieteach - The full videos are on the CW website:

    I am tweeting messages to @tyrabanks and @cw_network

    Also writing a letter right now using the feedback on CW

  8. ok, i get she has a medical condition, but of allllll the beautiful girls in the world- why choose the one with an eye condition? modeling is all about looks. i dont get it.

  9. I know this is an old thread, but I felt the need to comment. "Lazy" or "wandering" eyes are actually pretty prevalent in modeling. I use to work as a photo editor for catalogs and have worked on photo shoots, so to say the least, I have looked at a lot of models. When I first started I noticed the "wandering" or "lazy" eye (I'm looking at pre-photoshop images). I asked my boss about it and he told me many models have this. He told me it can be useful as the models are able to look "beyond" the camera, so it appears as if they are gazing at you rather than the photographer. After that I noticed it a lot more in imagery, usually group shots taken further away where they are less likely to "correct" via photoshop. Have also noticed it on television n in several actors and newscasters as well.

    If this eye condition was really an issue (or a curiosity) in the modeling world, this woman never would of gotten on the show. Just like they don't have anyone overweight (or normal) compete just to tell them they weight too much. This is a non-issue in this industry and this was played up in the episode, because in the end it is "reality" tv, not actual reality.