Monday, December 4, 2023

No, Elizabeth Taylor didn't have a 'double row' of eyelashes.


Elizabeth Taylor in classic eye makeup as Cleopatra

Actress Elizabeth Taylor was famous for her violet blue eyes and smoky eye makeup, but a claim has been circulating for several decades that she had a 'double row' of eyelashes on her upper and lower eyelids. Her lifelong friend Roddy McDowell said of her "Who has double eyelashes except a girl who was absolutely born to be on the big screen?” and in Slate in 2011 it was suggested that she had a mutation of the FOXC2 gene, which can cause this condition, called distichiasis.  It is associated with more serious conditions including congenital heart defects. Taylor died at 79 from congestive heart failure, but I could not find any reports it was due to a congenital condition. Close up photos of her eyes show only the usual single row of lashes. The second row of eyelashes in distichiasis grow from the meibomian glands that provide lubrication for the eyelids, and often grow inside of the eyelid, not outside, an uncomfortable condition that can require surgery. Medical article on the condition which has illustrations that may make some readers uncomfortable. 

Sally Morrison, Ms. Taylor's publicist, told me "...though the "double lash" story was widely repeated, I do not think it was true.  From my perspective it was likely propagated by a studio publicist early in her career!"

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