It is a parents’ natural if not somewhat narcissistic inclination to want preserve their children’s beauty as genetics intended it. (“Look what we created!”) But it is also a true wonder that my own parents and so many other supposedly devoted guardians let us go through the first bits of our life with untamed topiaries on our foreheads. Life is way too cruel for awkward pre-teens to emotionally endure any sort of hairy thing and yet eyebrows — for whatever reason — are often not transferred over to a child’s control until she turns 14.
At least, not officially.
Fine-wisped, well-shaped and full of life, your early childhood eyebrows were perfect. Think Bruno Mars meets Kiernan Shipka, but as a baby. Today you look upon photos of them longingly and wax nostalgic about the untouched angel clouds of innocence that shaded your sweet eyes from the harsh realities of the world. Realities like eyebrow bald spots and errant hairs that grow exactly where you don’t need them. These were the brows your parents didn’t want you to touch.
Let’s blame our moms here for holding on to our hirsute baby fat for too long. Their reluctance to accept that we were growing up and our brows were growing OUT (of control) meant that we were banned from even thinking about touching our pubescent forehead-staches with tweezers. At Thanksgivings and holiday reunions, aunts, adult cousins and our grandmothers on both sides would say things like, “Never wax! You’ll regret it.”
I ask you what stings more: wax, regret, or that I was once mistaken for a Groucho Marx impersonator at local fair.
Armed with an improper tool (possibly a razor; a nail clipper; a pair of sewing scissors) and determination to look hot for the eighth grade dance, we took to our brows with psychopathic vigor. We were young women possessed, drunk with a god-like ability to change the apparent shape of our face, zoomed in way too close to the mirror for our own good. Half an our later and one step back revealed we’d gone too far; that we’d done something very wrong.
But we didn’t care. We took pride in the slender, furry sperms of our creation and laughed in the face of Eli Berman. HA! Dare you to call me a monkey, now. Plz don’t look at my arms, though.
Sophisticated and mature, we learned to pluck our tadpoles into rainbow arches after flipping through every teen mag we could get our hands on. Our eyebrows looked Marlene Dietrich’s. Unfortunately, we were not Marlene Dietrich. We just looked surprised.
After a beauty consultation at a fancy makeup counter in the nice department store for Junior Prom the year prior, we began growing our eyebrows back out thanks to a woman who showed us exactly what a brow pencil could do. In the meantime — because the Dietrich Bald Spot takes a while to regenerate — we got really, really into coloring within the lines and looked halfway between stern and dramatic, all the time.
Once the hair grew back, we hit up our very first wax (counterintuitive, some might say) where a professional tortured our face to create the perfect brow. No like, perfect, perfect. With the arch just so and not a single hair out of place. We strode into freshman year like a damn lion. But actually. Because have you seen Scar from The Lion King’s eyebrows?
Our left and right sisters have never been more representative of our actual lives than the fresh post-collegiate years. We had the bulk and the shape just right. This began our narrative arc, if you (we) will. But there grew a frequent rotation of hairs that we began to miss and a bit of the old uni began to creep in above our noses, like party hats — because we were more stressed than ever and trying to keep up with our newfound adult responsibilities as opposed to our foreheads’ 5 o’clock shadow.
And now…the good news is that after college, every brow year got — and gets — better. It’s here that we settle into the gel that works best and find peace regardless of whether we’re into waxing, threading, using our fingers like Leandra or doing absolutely nothing at all. There’s no more cursing at our eyebrows for not being Bhumika Arora’s or Cara Delevingne’s. We — the person, the left brow and the right — are the three best friends that anyone’s ever had.
Especially because a new hairy situation just cropped up: the chin whisker. What the actual fuck?
Illustrations by Emily Zirimis.