Stop The Eyebrow Madness, Please

1

Know what you shouldn't have to defend? Your eyebrows. It's the sort of "flaw" only a particularly uninventive 7th-grade bully would come up with. And yet here eyebrow shaming is, somehow being a thing. Right now, everyone's brows are supposed to be a certain variety of thick-but-not-actually-thick. It's just, I suppose, as rigid and superfluous as all the preferred shapes that came before it, whether we're talking '50s-style painted brows or the unibrow that was de rigueur in ancient Sumeria.

If you genuinely like the current trend, please proceed! But for me, the idea of trying to get the look is exhausting. Just thinking about it makes me want to find the nearest Snuggie.

I've always been told my natural brows are too thin, but no matter your shape, size, or shade, you've probably had a similar experience. I know people mean well most of the time, but as far as I'm concerned, unless someone's eyebrows are cutting ahead of you in line at Starbucks or posing a threat to public safety, their facial fauna is their business.

Beyond its personally annoying elements, though, the hubbub about brows really bothers me because it's an adorable, furry microcosm of beauty industry stereotypes. Here's how it sometimes seems trends get generated:

Step 1: Select arbitrary attribute
Step 2: Judge—harshly
Step 3: Exclude basically everyone
Step 4: Mock until uniformity or deep neuroses achieved
Step 5: Breed resentment, foment rebellion, generate populist rage
Step 6: Rinse, repeat

The longer I work in beauty, the more I recognize that those six steps (mostly) aren't real. Eyebrow snark, though? Not helping. Most beauty professionals don't jump on trend cycles, even if the perception is otherwise. But this bizarro shaming stuff kinda negates the many people who have enough strength of character to pull a D.A.R.E. and just say no when confronted with the assertion that there's a "right" nail bed length or a superior hair texture.

Not to mention the most important part—the harm it does to everybody who just wants to feel good about themselves. No one deserves to have their sense of self-worth taken in exchange for brow gel. It's a bad trade. And let's just be honest: there's an abundance of toxic historical baggage tied to beauty that we're far from being past. We don't need any extra negativity.

So yup, I have thin eyebrows. Maybe you do too, or maybe you don't! However yours are—and however you are in general—I'm sure you're lovely. Mostly though, I don't care about your eyebrows. And I mean that in the best way possible. My wish for all of us (complete cornball warning) is that at some point we have a moment to look at one another/ourselves and not care. Because if we're not scared of being judged, the likelihood is that we'll all feel significantly less shitty being our collective weird selves. And isn't that what beauty's actually about—letting your inner weirdo become your outer weirdo? I certainly hope so...because otherwise I have no idea what we're doing.

—Lacey Gattis

Photo by Elizabeth Brockway.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://mikamartyniuk.tumblr.com/ Mika Martyniuk

    I'm with you. Even though I naturally have thick brows, I loathe corporal totalitarianism.

    • ITGLacey

      And I love the phrase "corporal totalitarianism", Mika!

  • Maria

    I've always been told that my eyebrows are too thick, but I don't think they're that thick. There's an obsession with the kind of "thick but not actually thick" brows, I just don't get it, no one's ever going to fit.

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    This was really interesting and true. Thanks for posting this ITG!

  • lalala

    It's all about the perspective. I'm living in Turkey and here most of the girls have so much hair, and usually they start plucking their eyebrows and waxing their mustaches when they were 13-14 because people starts to tease you about having a "unibrow" (even though you have just one or two pieces of hair between your brows) or a moustache. I have started not plucking my eyebrows as how people wants them to be, thin and hairless as it can be. I loved the way my eyebrows look, hairy and stuff, I thought it was so strong and powerful. But people always teased me about the look of my eyebrows, and most of them still do actually.

    • ITGLacey

      You deserve a big high five for deciding on your brows for yourself—I'm sure they look amazing!

    • Dru

      yeah, I came from a country where the prevailing eyebrow trend is ALWAYS skinny and so arched that it looks borderline botoxed - it's practically a coming-of-age thing to thread your brows into that shape, if you're a woman.

      I got told I had 'man brows' for keeping mine full and not plucking them thinner or more arched (I do groom them though). But honestly, I'd rather have man brows than the alternative. People should get to decide what they like, beauty-wise, this business of 'trends' is just silly because some people legitimately will never suit certain beauty trends.

  • http://milkandinkbeautyblog.blogspot.ca/ kat

    Kate Moss has thin eyebrows and she always looks great. Huge eyebrows just don't suit everyone. I would say everyone should just do what they want but sometimes that results in Sharpie eyebrows

  • L

    I really agree. Wouldn't life be easier for everyone if we just didn't have to worry about being picked apart/judged?

  • http://brushandbullet.com/ Teresa

    Ugh, yes. I'm sick of that saying floating around tumblr and pinterest: "Never take advice from someone with bad eyebrows." Like, what does that even mean? Eyebrows are f*ckin' hard to get right, according to basically EVERYONE, so not being able to get them to fit some arbitrary standard doesn't mean jack when it comes to that person's intelligence or faculties.

    • ITGLacey

      YES—what is with that? It's so catty & dumb

      • http://brushandbullet.com/ Teresa

        BY THE WAY, you're totally channeling Jessica Chastain from that angle.

        • ITGLacey

          Well in that case, I need to study that picture & do whatever it is I'm doing there all the time...

        • ITGLacey

          Also, went down a Jessica Chastain gif rabbit hole & realized that I do indeed make this face/look like this constantly, so... Excellent point: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lzm1ktRG6S1qawrzyo1_500.gif

  • Lauren

    Okay, I'm about to sound like a complete nutcase, but I LOVE eyebrows... thinking about them, looking at them, reading about them, talking about them... they are just so interesting and beautiful and important and unique. Honestly, when I see a perfect pair of eyebrows (which, to be fair, can be rare sometimes), I am genuinely happy for that person's face - whether it's a man or woman. But we all can't be Cara Delevingne or Emma Watson. Thick eyebrows will always be in style because they are very youthful looking, and youth is (sadly) one of the most prized attributes in our society. But most importantly, YOU need to rock the eyebrows YOU have on YOUR face. As long as they don't look like two mismatched sperm above each eye, I say you go girl. And remember, even Michelle Obama uses an eyebrow pencil.

  • Lauren

    Oh, I forgot about this: http://shi77yadvice.com/drawing-eyebrows-on-babies-will-not-disappoint-you/ (see, eyebrows can also be extremely comical!)

  • Guest

    Well said! I have to add, though, that I think ITG is among the worst offenders in this recent eyebrow mania. I hope this article is a signal that change is coming.

  • Bells

    "Because if we're not scared of being judged, the likelihood is that
    we'll all feel significantly less shitty being our collective weird
    selves. And isn't that what beauty's actually about—letting your inner weirdo become your outer weirdo?"

    THIS.

    Can you hear the sound of the applause?

  • http://www.wernerbeauty.com/ Teckie

    Preach!

  • Dru

    I'm of the opinion that it's best to work with the brows that YOU have, whether they're full, fat Audrey Hepburn-style ones or delicate 90s Kate Moss arches. There's no such thing as a 'bad brow', just occasionally mistreated ones whose owners may not have figured out that it's best to work with your eyebrows shape and size instead of against it.
    (I was one such girl - spent five years trying to make my straight brows get arches, but then I gave up and pluck them straighter than ever and it actually works with my face and eye shape! One girl's 'bad brows' may well be the thing someone else is dying to have, so no need to feel shamed for it)

  • Sophie Isabella D.

    Preach! I have exactly the same problem- my brows are naturally thin and I'm constantly getting stick about "over plucking", when I don't pluck at all… ! Quite the opposite, in fact- I'm looking for the eyebrow equivalent to Alpecin shampoo- any suggestions?! It doesn't help that mine are fair, so, if they are stripped of any pencil/ink/goo and photographed, I have that slightly grumpy alien "fivehead" look (which is how I look in the majority of my middle school pictures, as I wasn't allowed makeup)… Great.

    • ITGLacey

      Latisse will make your brows thicker & darker—I've tried it & it works. But after a while I was just like... eff everyone else's opinions; I do what I want! ;)

  • Julia

    Facial fauna - well done!!

  • Danielle

    Eyebrows should fit your face, not what's in trend. I have big facial features and naturally large brows. It would look weird if they were thin. Same for my mom she has beautiful large bushy brows that are a lovely shape. However, there are some women who pull off thin brows and look just as gorgeous. If you have delicate facial features it only makes sense to have a delicate brow. Sperm brows aside, thin and thick brows can be equally beautiful!

  • Prenouveau

    If you have a good shape, thickness shouldn't matter. The next time anyone implies that your thinner brows are any less than chic, just show them Marlene.

  • Katie

    to each their own brow! I've been enamoured with Karlie Kloss's thin high arch throughout this whole "caterpillars=youth and youth=beauty" fad. diapers make you look younger too.

    • ITGLacey

      "Diapers make you look younger too" is just such a good burn #YouWin

    • Lauren

      Unless they're adult diapers. In my humble opinion, if you're wearing adult diapers, then you're an old.

  • Oldylocks

    Oy. Why so sensitive? Prevailing trends bat us all around like paper dolls.

  • http://LuxeLifeAspirations.blogspot.ie/ Michelle

    I hear ya, I too have thin eye brows! Although my 16 year old self and over enthusiastic plucking are mostly to blame...

  • Eliza

    LOVED this, since I naturally have very thin, straight eyebrows and I would literally have to glue faux fur to my face to achieve the Cara.

    • ITGLacey

      Hahahahahaha—you should start a line of stick-on faux brows!

  • Hannah Walker Finnie

    Loved this article so much I sent it to my mom--a victim of eyebrow shame, mostly propagated by herself--and she said it made her cry. Well done.

    • ITGLacey

      Please give your mom a hug!

  • Ellen Findley

    I struggled with my brows when I was younger, and I've only just learned to groom them the way I like.

    The older I get, the more a modified Lady Gaga makes sense to me: "Do what you want with *your* body."

  • Mady

    The full-eyebrow trend is an excuse for me to stop tweezing without worrying it might make me look less "put together", so I kinda love it. That said, I agree with the sentiment behind your article.

  • Chippy

    I totally agree with you. I have naturally thick eyebrows and (minus an unfortunate period in high school) have always kept them that way because it suits my features much better than thin eyebrows, and will continue to keep them thick even when the current trend for thick eyebrows goes away. I get so tired of seeing girls with delicate features walking around with huge stenciled-in eyebrows when thinner eyebrows would suit them much better. Beauty trends for things that are so individual to each person (eyebrow thickness, hair texture) need to go away!

  • Alyson Luthi

    Well put! I have thick eyebrows and in the past couple of years I noticed a complete switch from ladies at makeup counters insinuating that I should buy a better tweezer to complete strangers giving me compliments. Certainly, the latter trend is more comfortable than the former, yet at the end of the day I hold true to my mantra, "the only genuine affirmation I need is still my own".

  • Brittany

    I was told in 8th grade by my "friends" that my eyebrows were too thin (and, therefore, not as good as their eyebrows). I became kind of self conscious about it, but since then I can't even count how many compliments I've gotten on my eyebrows for their fullness. Total opposite of what my so-called friends said.

    • a67penguin

      Ha! When I was younger, my friends told me my eyebrows were too thick. I wore bangs down to my nose for years. No joke! Funny how small things become neuroses.

  • http://usefulthingsbeautifulthings.blogspot.co.uk/ Beautiful Things

    Who knew that eyebrow shaming even existed?!? Clearly some people have too much time on their hands. My advice is, just ignore them. You're very beautiful as you are and, to be honest, you'd just look odd if you had Cara Delevigne style eyebrows.

  • laraleimarie

    Your eyebrows are very similar to mine, and I am happy to read your words. Brow envy is to tiresome!

  • Dru

    I have straight eyebrows! I guess that's the part I missed mentioning when I said the stuff about being pressured to go 'more arched' (and boy, is there pressure - I've spent quality time with spermatozoa brows in the quest for an arch).

    But hey, in South Korea women actually WANT brows like ours so all the better to just embrace it, I say. And I've never looked better than I have with my brows grown in straight.

  • laurenashley

    so glad someone addressed this topic in such a well-written, heartfelt way! LOVE! <3

  • ITGLacey

    Totally—how could somebody possibly "need" more arch?

  • ITGLacey

    OMG! Bellasugar feels like forevvvvver ago even though it's only been a couple of years, but it was such a fun job :)

    • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

      I bet! I've got career envy!

      • ITGLacey

        Well, I'd say having your own site is pretty darn awesome, too!

        • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

          Awww, thanks! *blush*

  • ITGLacey

    Evelyn, no one has ever given me a gif before & I could not possibly be more excited!! Thank you so much :) *hugs*

  • http://4districtstyle.wordpress.com District Style

    This is one of the reasons I really enjoy reading ITG. You're not afraid to call out nonsense like this. Our culture has a long way to go when it comes to body (or beauty) shaming, but it's important that people on the inside call it as they see it. Kudos.

  • ITGLacey

    I don't even know how to feel! On the one hand... FUN! On the other hand... itchy???

  • ITGLacey

    There's nothing wrong with loving big browz! You do you! :)

  • ITGLacey

    That's such a good point—I think as a culture we should re-examine the way we compliment. From a very young age, people's automatic way of being kind to little girls is to tell them that they look pretty, which is entirely well-intentioned but can be so destructive.

    I think boys suffer from a different variation of the same linguistic trap, too. People (who are just trying to be supportive) will often tell them that they "look so tough!" or "look so scary!" as if those are baseline positive traits, not to mention all the sort of "don't be a sissy!" stuff you hear thrown around.

  • Katie Jenner

    I think you should write your next article about the disproportionate amount of women in fashion all within a size 0-4 size bracket, who are mostly white. Pre-and post-thick eyebrows, this is probably the biggest theme in fashion that makes women feel terrible. We pick apart and fetishize body parts, but the bigger issue is one of fat-shaming and racism.

  • jk

    this is too good. but what if it, um, falls off? haaaa!

  • Ethan

    Ugh...eyebrows...you got to admit: they are pretty important parts of our face (and I'm guilty of spending hours every day perfecting them)

  • Margaret

    I can't grow thick eyebrows to save my life nor would they look good on me. I have a small face and they would be super overwhelming.

  • Bertbrowssuck

    Lacey, naturally thin eyebrows beat obvious drawn- in Bert n Ernie eyebrows any day! I feel like going to the mall with a loudspeaker and yelling, "ladies... Step away from the brow pencil! It is not your friend! You look like you've been attacked with a sharpie!".

  • Courtney

    The best eyebrow is your natural eyebrow.

  • Katie

    Great article. Totally agree with what you said about trends - just because you don't have whatever is "in style" doesn't mean you aren't beautiful!

  • SCE

    Meh. When it was fashionable to have think eyebrows, mine were too thick. Now mine are not thick enough.

  • sasha

    i kind of just have to put this out there; for the longest time the physical attributes of white women with white features were exalted. i remember a time when it was all about the thin sculpted brow. now, society is opening up to a type of eyebrow styling that favors the natural genetics women of color (for once) and you're complaining that it's exclusionary? i know that this is a beauty blog, but beauty and politics are not separate. please let us women of ethnicity have out moment in the sun. this is coming tom a major fan of itg!

  • sim-U-lation

    When I was a kid in the early 2000's when thin eyebrows were the in eyebrows my older sisters would often tease me about the baby unibrow that was constantly creeping together. Now they are telling me how jealous they are of my thick and glamorous eyebrows. It comes and it goes. I'm just happy I don't have to wax them for the time being.

REPLIES

Dearest ITG Reader,

We're working on something new called Glossier. It's launching soon(!) and we want you to be the first to know updates.

xo, Emily