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.
Photo by Elizabeth Brockway.