Making this guide because I see this question time and time again on here. This post is mostly directed at white artists and writers who are wondering how to best design their characters of color. Full text description is at the end under the cut.
Full disclaimer, I am biracial (mixed E/SE asian and white) and grew up in majority poc communities, but I am just one person and this post is only based on my own experiences. If any other poc want to chime in, feel free to do so.
Once again, a full plaintext description is under the cut. If you find the information useful, please pass it on by reblogging <3
(Finally, even though I spoke vaguely on genetic inheritance, this is NOT the place to comment on certain features being mutations, as if being a mutation means something is inherently lesser or isn’t supposed to exist. Mutations is everything! All of our traits were at some point or another, an emerging mutation. Love yourself ^__^)
Text Description: A Brief Guide on Designing Biracial Characters: “Are my character’s green eyes REALISTIC?”
Disclaimer: I am a geneticist but this is by no means my topic of expertise. The information here is based on EXPERIENCE, and common knowledge of genetic inheritance.
A LOT of people will ask “If my character is mixed white and X, is it OK/realistic for me to give them green/blue/grey eyes?”
SHORT ANSWER: Biracial people with super light eyes exist, but this is uncommon and often plays into trends of whitewashing.
[Two diagrams. One is of light eye colors being combined with dark eye colors, and the other is light hair colors being combined with dark hair colors. Both of them display a range of potential hair and eye colors from these combinations. The brown, dark brown, and black colors are noted as “Most Common”, while green, blue, grey eyes and blonde, red hair fall outside this range. end image]
When someone has one parent with darker features and another parent with light features, their features will normally be a mix of the two or the darker color will be dominant.
Having green or blue eyes if one of your parents has very dark eyes is really rare.
Green and blue eyes are characterised by a LACK of melanin, which means that if that person inherited even one melanin-producing eye color gene from their parent, they will have eyes that are at LEAST hazel or light brown.
[Drawing of four people. A person with dark skin, black hair, and black eyes and a person with pale skin, brown hair, and brown eyes are marked as “Pretty common”. A person with tan skin, dark brown hair, and blue eyes and a person with dark skin, black hair, and hazel eyes are marked as “Very rare”. end image]
A good rule of thumb for making ANY characters of color is make their eyes around the same shade as their hair. Also, hair tends to be several shades darker than skin, and eyes will almost never be lighter than their skin.
Biracial characters can range from looking a lot like only one of their parents to looking like a perfect mix of them, but if one of the parents has extremely light features like blue eyes or blond hair, it’s unlikely your character will have identical traits.
As always, EXCEPTIONS EXIST, but if you are white and choose to make your character one of these rare exceptions, you should examine WHY you find light eyes more desirable.
It is extremely common for media to give characters of color light, unnatural eye colors, and then justify it by saying “it’s possible” or having an in-universe explanation (eye colors in ATLA, Yennefer in the Witcher series, etc).
This plays into tropes of whitewashing (touched on earlier in this post) and inadvertently teaches children of color that their dark eyes are somehow less desirable. As mentioned, the VAST MAJORITY of half-white biracial children have brown to black eyes, so I would really recommend that you give your own characters dark eyes, because they’re lovely too!
Some Miscellaneous Notes:
If a character is E/SE asian and white, their hair texture might be thick like their asian parent’s (even if light colored!), or have a thinner texture like their white parent (even if dark colored!).
If a character is mixed black and another race, their hair texture is going to very likely have the same or a similar texture as their black parent’s.
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