Browsing the Brows

One of the first things you may notice about me, besides my ‘fro, are my eyebrows. They are, perhaps, the one facial feature that I am most proud of because they are naturally thick, full, and require minimal maintenance. I’ve never followed eyebrow trends-when thin brows were “in,” mine were thick. When brow shaving and drawn on brows were “in,” mine were thick. When tattooed brows became “the rage,” mine were thick. When thick brows were “in,” well, I was suddenly in sync! With the changing times, whether or not thick brows are fashion do’s,  I refuse to follow most fashion whims. I don’t frequent malls or clothing outlets. I shop online (a lot), and I’m most comfortable in a sweater set, slacks, and good flats. In this In Style article, pictured are style icons over several decades who may make you wonder why eyebrows have changed with the times: http://www.instyle.com/beauty/eyes/history-eyebrows#599581.

Unfortunately, we live in the kind of world that judges you based on your looks, and eyebrows are such an easy target. They frame our eyes (the “mirrors to the soul”) and are so hard to “get right,” but very easy to “get wrong” for many of us:

When I was in undergrad during the late 80’s-early 90’s, I never got my “brows done.” I couldn’t afford the maintenance. Honestly, it just wasn’t that big of a deal. My primary concerns were graduating in four years (although I pledged a sorority) and eating at least two semi-nutritious meals a day.

Here I am, freshman year-Fall 1987, with a UNIBROW:


Below, I am in New Orleans, on my first college trip. I had a UNIBROW…and I have no idea who the guy is with whom I’m pictured in the French Quarter. I’m sure that my sorors and I thought he was attractive. After a few drinks in NOLA, everyone is “yo’ friend.”

Here I am at Vanderbilt’s February 1989 Naval ROTC Midshipmen Ball with a UNIBROW:

I look at that picture now (above), of my 20-year old self (27 years ago!), and I laugh out loud. I didn’t have a care in the world, and I was loved-even with that hideous UNIBROW. Al B. Sure! was my male twin back then; hairy in the brow area, but adored by millions. If only I could sing!

Here I am on Graduation Day at Vanderbilt University, May 1991, and I promise you, there was a UNIBROW…just not as prominent. By that time, I may have taken to “cleaning out the middle,” which was probably with a disposable razor:

As I matured, for most of my 20’s and 30’s, my brows were fine as long as I “cleaned out the middle.” Some days can be categorized as “Bad Brow Days.” For me, these are three to four months of no brow maintenance. When my eyebrows were initially groomed, back in the day, I was getting them waxed. With warm wax, my skin was often sensitive, and I would burn or have extreme irritation that often led to another three to four month break from brow maintenance.

In 2005, I was teaching Spanish to high schoolers and asked them to complete a reflection to help me become a better teacher. They had to draw me or describe me, then write what they liked about the class and how I could change. Pictured below are just a few of the “portraits” they created of me:

Not the best artwork, but one thing is definitely a commonality and prominent in each rendition…the brows! 

Here I am with bushy, “cleaned out the middle” brows…ain’t thinking about getting them waxed:

Here I am once I started to get my brows threaded in 2013. To me, my brows are too thin in this picture, and they are uneven on one side, irregular with an unnatural arch. I’m forced to wait three or four months to get them back to their natural fullness:

Here’s what they often look like (below) after I’ve waited three or four months to re-thread. When I return for my next threading, I don’t allow them to do anything except a “clean up.” Leave’em ‘lone! Actually, my brows look like I have on that brow powder stuff…nope, they are just thick and the way they look with just a tiny bit of threaded maintenance (sans UNIBROW):

I would categorize the last two photographs of me as “Good Brow Days.” In both, my brows are arched, via threading, and complement the size of my eyes. They are full, but not bushy; combed upwards and “selfie-perfect.”

There are all sorts of funny memes about eyebrows. People take bad brows as a sign of something sinister; like they don’t trust you if you have misaligned, exaggerated, over-plucked, or missing in action brows. Many are unkind, but some of the more subtle stabs are:

brow5

brow1

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The walk down “eyebrow memory lane” has been entertaining for me; some of those photos I hadn’t seen in years. I try to get threaded at least once a month. Bombay on Perkins hooks me up in no time at all. Best $9 I spend each month. If you haven’t tried threading, you’ll appreciate the precise, clean lines. The pain…not so much. When your brows are thick and unruly like mine, precision, coupled with a good listening skills and an eye for facial shapes, matters. No matter your personal history of brow blunders, all faces can benefit from a pair of well-groomed eyebrows. 

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