Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My reader pet peeve: Black and Grey Eyes

I'm going to start this off by saying I know I'm being irrational. I can't help it, okay? When I read a character has "black" or "grey/gray" eyes, I cringe.

I've been lucky enough to avoid the REALLY strange eye colors - like amethyst or orange. Some strange eye colors are actually part of the plot, like Shatter by Elizabeth Mock or a paranormal I'm beta reading in which eye colors change when the wolf is close to the surface. But some just get on my nerves.

Like black and grey eyes.

When I read black eyes, I think of demons. You know, when the iris blends with the pupil blends with the white. Like this:

Blech! Now, I know some people have brown eyes that are so dark they look black. A few people have said that about my eyes. But it still doesn't change the fact that they're brown. Not black. Right? Maybe I'm misunderstanding eye pigment or something. I know pictures online look like someone may have black eyes, but I've never thought that in real life.

This doesn't tick me off as much as grey eyes do.

I don't know what it is, but they pop up EVERYWHERE. Is it like a rule if you write a fantasy book, you have to have a character with grey eyes? Why? This color is so uncommon. In fact, it's more likely that the character's eyes are just blue or green, but they want to say grey to feel special.

When I read grey eyes, I think of model Jessica Stam. And you know what? I'm looking at pictures of her, and they're just light blue.

I can't deny these are gorgeous eyes, but it's so rare. I don't know, maybe the problem isn't the extreme overuse of it (BUT IT IS) but the fact that I don't know what grey eyes are.

I could definitely consider Aishwarya Rai (spelled that wrong the first time!) as grey-eyed.

I'm just saying. . .it's so rare, and yet everybody has them.

OMG, there's even a TV Trope about grey eyes, but they're missing the point! Grey eyes don't have a purpose or significance - authors just give them to EVERYONE!

Case in point. . .my list of grey-eyed characters/authors. And yes, I got a lot of my list TV Tropes there because I try to block grey eyes out of my memory.

1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling. JK is just grey-happy:
a. Sirius Black (this is the one I remembered)
b. Luna Lovegood (SILVER!)
c. Draco and Lucius Malfoy
d. Cedric Diggory
e. Mr. Ollivander

2. Annabeth from Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

3. JRR Tolkien. Lots of grey eyes there.

4. Katniss, Gale, and Haymith from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

5. Many of the Stark family in A Song of Fire and Ice by George Martin (I've only read the sample on Kindle, but he mentioned it a dozen times)

6. Anne in Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (What? I always thought they were green! Red hair and green eyes, that's another one overdone)

7. Lolita from Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov

8. Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm coming back to this and adding to it every time I catch grey eyes in the books I'm reading.

Sigh. Brown eyes make up the majority of the human population, but you've just got to make everyone GREY. The least common eye color EVER. Because your characters are special snowflakes. I could definitely bring up some kind of race issue, but that might be blowing it out of proportion.

It doesn't annoy me as much as I make it seem like it does. It's just overdone. Especially when it's the first thing you learn about a character's description. I hardly notice eye color when I first meet someone unless they have stunning eyes - like any of the three pictures I posted (I'd really notice demon black eyes).

End rant.

Do you have any reader pet peeves? Things you're sick to death of reading about?


  1. Aww I have grey eyes ... but I try to pass them off as blue lol
    I would love to have nice light blue or bright green eyes but unfortunately no. I never thought about so many characters having grey eyes though. It's such a bland colour so to me it just makes the character bland! I didn't think they were all that uncommon though lol

  2. That's funny! Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way haha!

  3. You do realize Harry Potter had green eyes, right? Lily's green eyes...?

  4. Hmmm.... from where I'm from grey eyes ARE actually thought quite ordinary and boring - that and the different murky colour mixes like bluish-greenish-sth or another. I myself also have grey eyes.

  5. I love grey eyes! And I have them too. Grey eyes tend to look grey or green depending on the lighting, they aren't very boring though its fun when people try to say my eye color. It really just depends on the lighting with grey eyes! Why are they scary anyways, I love grey eyes! There mysterious!

  6. Many people have grey eyes. It's uncommon but not as rare as people think. Often times writers use they eyes and their color to help give us insight on the personality of the character. Grey eyes are someone who is calm or stable. They also once signified a person who hid a good deal of wisdom.

    Yes you listed off a good amount of books. But compared to the massive amount of books out there it's a slim list. One of my friends had never met or even read about a person with grey eyes until they met me. The shock on her face when I told her I don't wear contacts still makes me smile. My eyes are what's considered to be the true grey not just a blue dilute. You can tell true grey by the sudden color around the pupal.

    In a person born with true grey eyes much if not all of the color is pushed into small concentrated areas normally surrounding the pupal giving the effect to the eye of having colored flecks. Mine to be specific are grey with amber flecks around my pupals.

    Hope this helped or at least added to the conversation.

    1. May I see a pic of you? I would love it *-*

  7. I think you should also look around for people who have grey eyes and you might find that they are not the rarest.