Why are we so obsessed with eyes?


Can you tell me what color your coworkers’ eyes are? How about your cousin Andrew’s? What about Matt, the guy you went to high school with that you had a crush on?

Reading a book (that will go unnamed) a while back, I was struck--and not for the first time--by the many ways eyes were described. More so that the description almost always focused on color… and not much else.

I went back to my earliest manuscripts (those first, terrible drafts from when I was a baby author and which should be buried deep in tombs sealed with ancient, cursed glyphs) and found that I had done this too. Eyes like ice, eyes that inexplicably darkened from moss to emerald, eyes so chocolaty… I might have been hungry when I was writing that bit.

Eye color is one of the last things I pay attention to in real life interactions.

I know what color my husband’s eyes are, I know what color my own are. Those have some very specific descriptors (but I wouldn’t wax lyrical about them for a whole paragraph).

I know the color of a few other random people’s eyes. But they’re relegated to ‘brown, blue, green, hazel, etc.’

Descriptors of individuals features are one of those things where… they have to be outside the norm for me. And eyes--especially color--so rarely are. Heterochromia that provides a clue to familial links, bring it on. The color of her favorite meadow in the middle of Spain…. Not so much.

When eyes fall into the description, I want to see something outside normal. Something that makes you consider *why* it was important to mention.

Her mascara was a smeared shadow along the waterproof cat eye. A similar mark marred her hand.

Broken vessels spreading red across the white.

Cat-eye contacts.

A drooping lid. 

My eyes literally change color because I have radial heterochromia, and I don’t think I’d include that in a description unless it was plot relevant.

Am I wrong? Is eye color that important to you?

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