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What’s a Regular Guy to Do About His Own Butthole Eyes?

We asked a doctor and a beauty expert about that viral Pete Davidson story

Look, this is all very dumb, but when there’s a story about “butthole eyes” in the media cycle, it’s the duty of every noble newshound to separate truth from bullshit, and the New York Post royally fucked up.

Pete Davidson, cast member of Saturday Night Live and new fiancé to Ariana Grande, has Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease with no cure. Davidson also has sunken, deep-set eyes, with apparently brown-tinted eyelids.

Barstool Sports, a media empire of misogyny whose workplace culture makes Roger Ailes–era Fox News sound delightful, seized on his dark circles and called Davidson “butthole eyes” in a recent post.

The phrase spread; Grande got mad online and took Barstool to task, saying they were pretty rude to comment on Davidson’s appearance considering he has an autoimmune disease, suggesting it has an effect on his complexion.

Then Page Six, the gossip section of the New York Post—New York City’s pigeon toilet most effective at harassing the homeless—ran a story “debunking” Grande, talking to a doctor and ruling Davidson’s Crohn’s isn’t the cause of his “butthole eyes.” “Ariana Grande might want to double-check WebMD before she starts tweeting about medical issues,” Page Six wrote. The Barstool crew gloated on Twitter, insinuating that Grande is wrong and dumb.

Yet nothing in the Page Six piece actually contradicts Grande’s statement, which is that Barstool is trash for picking on a dude with an autoimmune disorder. But it’s not wrong to suggest Crohn’s can lead to skin complications—there are several known conditions that can occur due to Crohn’s and its medications, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Not to mention dehydration having an effect on the eyes. Page Six’s doctor says so himself:

“The reason they’re sunken is because people with Crohn’s disease can sometimes become dehydrated,” Knapp told Page Six on Friday.

I asked another doctor, Marc Leavey, M.D., of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, for his insights.

“Without knowing the precise details of Pete Davidson’s history of Crohn’s disease, it is possible to postulate on a possible etiology of his dark eyelids. A significant number of people with inflammatory bowel diseases have issues outside of the gastrointestinal tract. Reported changes in the eyes include pathologic changes in the lens, iris and other elements of the eye, including the lids.

“Treatment for Crohn’s, including steroids, can also lead to swelling and irritation of the lids. In many people, repeated irritation of a region of skin triggers a hyper-pigmentation response. Many have seen this with dark scars or pressure points, this is much the same.

“Given this mechanism, it’s possible that the effects of Crohn’s disease and its treatment could, over time, result in darkening of the lids and periorbital skin.”

Rosemary Donahue, Allure’s digital wellness editor, agrees. “I’m not a doctor, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, but the gastroenterologist in the article directly said that Crohn’s causes dehydration, which can cause the skin to look less supple,” she says. “The skin around the eye area is especially thin and susceptible to the effects of dehydration, or the aptly named ‘butthole eyes.’ While Crohn’s may not directly cause this newly monikered condition for everyone with the disease, it does cause dehydration, which can have that effect.”

But all that said, does it matter? It’s well documented that autoimmune diseases can lead to skin complications, but we still don’t know anything about Davidson’s unique medical history. All we know is that the content cycle around his appearance and Grande’s support is a reductive mess of cheap shots and gotchas. So what’s this really all about?

“More than anything, the Page Six piece seems like an attempt to make Ariana Grande look dumb, as though she doesn’t know anything about her fiancé,” Donahue says. “It’s clearly a cheap shot at Davidson’s appearance, thinly veiled as a medical explainer.”

For the Barstool network, cheap shots are just business as usual. This is the operation whose founder, Dave Portnoy, filmed an employee naked in the shower, and more recently, told a 20-year-old female video host she’d be too unattractive for on-camera work in five years. Portnoy’s response: “If you’re gonna cry, then walk your fucking ass out the door.”

I admit I’m biased when it comes to dark-circle shame. I do not have Crohn’s, but I also have perpetually drowsy-looking sockets with eggplant-colored circles around my beady eyes that seem to develop new folds and wrinkles with each step I take toward death. Glasses only do so much to hide it.

So what’s a sunken-eye bro to do? Are we doomed to carry the “butthole eyes” moniker forever? Plenty of hydration will help. But most of it is genetics. “The structure and appearance of the eyes is a result of anatomy,” says Leavey. “Whether the sunken eyes of Davidson or the banjo eyes of Eddie Cantor, without extensive plastic surgery, the size and look of the eyes can’t be changed.”

They can, however, be mitigated with a nice concealer. “Makeup is for everyone, and gendered beauty products are bullshit,” Donahue says. “For men with Crohn’s (or men who are experiencing dehydration for any other reason) who’d like to cover up under-eye circles, there are a plethora of options. My favorite is ColourPop’s No Filter concealer, which comes in a wide range of shades, is creamy and blends easily. Another great option is NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, which is a cult classic and also comes in a good range of colors.”

Take that, buttholes.