Elizabeth Taylor's Distichiasis: Actress' Double Eyelash Genetic Mutation Revealed

Elizabeth Taylor's Genetic Mutation Revealed

One of the more interesting parts of the late Elizabeth Taylor's beauty life is that she was born with distichiasis -- double rows of eyelashes, Slate writes:

Double rows of eyelashes are usually the result of a mutation at FOXC2, a gene that influences all kinds of tissue development in embryos. FOXC2 mutations are thought to be responsible for, among other things, lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, a hereditary disease that can cause disorders of the lymphatic system in addition to double eyelashes.

The eyelash mutation isn't always as cosmetically enhancing as Taylor's turned out to be--the extra eyelashes can sometimes grow inward and damage the cornea. And it turns out that 7 percent of people with lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome also suffer from congenital heart disease.

Although she avoided any of the complications associated with distichiasis, Liz's diagnosis certainly factored into her childhood. From an old Washington Post review of J. Randy Taraborrelli's Taylor biography Elizabeth:

The scene is straight out of the "X-Men" franchise. A beetle-browed physician calls a pair of young parents into his office and, in the gravest of cadences, informs them that their newly born daughter has -- a mutation.

"Well, that sounded just awful," the girl's mother later recalls, "a mutation. But, when he explained that her eyes had double rows of eyelashes, I thought, well, now, that doesn't sound so terrible at all."

Star of the film ["Lassie Come Home"] Roddy McDowall, then 13, recalled: 'On her first day of filming, they took one look at her and said: "Get that girl off the set - she has too much eye make-up on, too much mascara.'

So they rushed her off the set and started rubbing at her eyes with a moist cloth to take the mascara off.

'Guess what? They learned that she had no mascara on. She has a double set of eyelashes. Now, who has double eyelashes except a girl who was absolutely born to be on the big screen?"

Pretty interesting stuff. In any case, it all explains her mascara-ad-worthy look.