Truly appreciating my unruly eyebrows was a long and bumpy road. It began around sixth grade, when I was suddenly alerted that, “No, my eye brows were not actually supposed to meet in the middle.” It was the dreaded year I also learned about dressing “in fashion,” understanding makeup (and since it was the 90’s — this meant as much glitter as possible), and the realization that I could no longer wear my ten year old Bartman t-shirt. It was a rough year.
A friend of mine sat me down in her bathroom and tweezed my brows through what was one of the most infuriating fifteen minutes of my life. It was the beginning of my body’s fight against the ridiculous traditions our society’s trends put us through. When she was done, they did indeed fit the standard of the thinly- plucked, arched brows from all the magazines. To this, she explained, “Ew, now you look like a cheerleader.” As theatre people, we didn’t consider this to be a good thing, because, you know, middle school is weird.
I felt like I couldn’t win. I went into school and half the people asked me why I made such a drastic change. All I could think was, “You all have literally been commenting on how I look like Bert for weeks. I pluck my eyebrows and now you tell me I’m selling out?” Lucky for them, I had no discipline for ripping hair out of my face, so my brows re-established their pre-plucked glory within a week or so. As years passed, I went through several phases:
Summer Theatre Camp 2002
I look in the well-lit mirror of the dance studio before the tap auditions and due to the stunning sunlight reflecting off the glass, I am able to take in the true state of my brows for the first time in months. They are taking over my face. Did I pack tweezers? Of course not. Did anyone else have tweezers No, because no else seems to have this problem. Their hair doesn’t have a mission to take over their face. I resort to shaving them into an appropriate shape. Things are awkward for several years because of this.
College Eyebrow Exodus of 2008
There was a point around sophomore year when I realized that a chunk of hair in the middle of my left brow was just never coming back. I had plucked it too much. To compensate for this, I did what any self-conscious 20 year old would do, I kept plucking. I shaped and waxed, and at one point I may have even Naired (it’s a wonder I’m not blind), but the shape never worked. Thus began the strange months with half-brows.
In 2009, while hiking in Spain, there was little to no grooming (other than for cleanliness of course, we weren’t that grody). Barely any hair brushing, no leg shaving, no makeup, no hairspray, and definitely no brow tweezing. Right after we finished the trip, I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to make myself look less like Bert. But after I got home, doing pretty much anything glamorous felt silly. It took a long time to even justify wearing anything but sneakers. In the years ahead, I stuck a balance of removing a bit without going overboard.
And then, around 2013, something amazing happened. One day, while working as a background actor work in NYC, I was having some strange makeup put on for a 1950’s film. At whatever ungodly early hour it was, the makeup artist said, “I barely have to thicken your brows, they’re already so great. But that’s like the style now, right?”
To which I said, “I’m sorry, what?!”
It had happened. Thick eyebrows- were back. My minimal tweezing to keep them from crawling toward the center of my forehead was all that was necessary to be “on fleek”—or whatever it all is. Yes, I sound like an old lady, I am comfortable with that.
The most important thing about this day of eyebrow success, was that I had accepted my spirited brows before they came into fashion. It’s great that now people are allowed to have serious looking caterpillars above their eyes, but whether it stays in fashion or not, mine aren’t going anywhere.
Perhaps it’s age or perhaps it’s my growing disconnect from pop culture, but the feelings about my eyebrows are branching out to other things as well. Recently, I let the final bit of daily makeup go. Foundation. It pissed of my skin, so I don’t know why I was bothering. Hairspray may be my final battle, but it’s definitely on the chopping block. I have to say, that with all the anger directed toward getting older, feeling more comfortable in my skin is something that does not get enough credit.
I am sure that brow trends will shift back toward thin lines and high arches soon enough. But most likely, mine will always be allowed to flow in the wind, even if it’s just my small way of sticking it to the man or accepting my look for what it is.
Ginny is a writer and actor who has been blogging on her site, Maybe There Will Be Cupcakes since 2010. Though it began as the search for her writing voice, her blog became a way to connect with other artists seeking wellness and balance while freelancing and maintaining a creative lifestyle. She is currently writing a book on creative health and is launching a local travel website in this winter. She currently lives in North Jersey with her husband and two kitties.