The tides of fashion

I’ve been watching with amusement the shift in beauty trends to…what do they call them? Boy brows? I think of them as Instagram brows, and stifle a snicker whenever I see some poor young thing with comically drawn-on eyebrows. She’s just trying to be pretty. I can’t laugh at that. I’ve been there.

I had, as a young teen, eyebrows these girls would kill for. And a particularly obnoxious “friend” teased me relentlessly about them. Brooke Shields was allowed to have thick brows, but I was no Brooke Shields.

I didn’t pluck my eyebrows because I am an absolute weenie about pain, but as I got older and they grew darker and thicker, I became especially self-conscious about them. One day I coated myself up in Anbesol and plucked until I had tapering, angled brows. (Tip: Anbesol doesn’t really help. It numbs the skin, but only slightly, and makes the hairs slick to boot.) I was left red, swollen, and bleeding, but at least my brows looked good.

As tends to happen when you take drastic measures like that, the trend moved to even thinner eyebrows. I slowly upped my plucking game over the years, trimming off just a little bit more each time I plucked. And then the 90s came, with their whisper-thin eyebrows, and I admitted defeat. No way was I going to achieve that look. I’d just have to be hopelessly uncool.

Not that I was ever not hopelessly uncool, mind you.

Oh, I thought about tweezing my brows from time to time. Even painted the edges of my brows in concealer (in the privacy of my own home, of course!) to see what I’d look like with thinner brows. I decided, ultimately, that the end result wasn’t fabulous enough to endure that sort of pain and let my poor bushy brows live.

These days I don’t pluck much at all. Once every year or so is enough to tidy up strays; most of the hair I used to pluck no longer grows. And so the joke is on those wispy-browed grunge princesses: Thick is in. If you want to look good, you now need to draw them on. Which, I suspect, is why thick brows are popular now: it’s a way to distinguish the young hotties from us old Gen Xers.

I regularly encounter waitresses who look like Red from Angry Birds, and see gaggles of teens sporting the exact same brow regardless of hair color or ethnicity. It’s getting to where I can almost guess someone’s age by their use of eyebrow pencil. And I am glad that I was too much of a wimp to suffer for beauty, because it led me to stay true to my own look. Which, I’ve learned, is the only fashion that ever truly endures.

Hurts less, too.



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