Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How now, slim brow

Peering into my lighted magnifying mirror (with which I have a love-hate relationship), I noticed—not for the first time—that my eyebrows are getting skimpier. There are also a few white hairs among the brown, which, because they’re nearly invisible, only intensify the look of a fading brow.

This requires more skillful application of taupe pencil or brown powder or whatever product the make-up gurus are touting these days—not to mention the clear brow gel that we curly-headed lasses need to keep us from looking like late-middle-aged werewolves.

But here’s a sixty-something’s irony: The eyebrow concern I’m focusing on today is the exact opposite of my childhood issue. You see, I was one of those tweens with a unibrow. The hair wasn’t bushy in between my eyes, but it was certainly present and noticeable. This was before I was allowed to tweeze, and I wasn’t all that bothered by it.

Once, at camp, we were sitting around a campfire, laughing and having a great time. A girl I was particularly fond of was next to me, and we were teasing each other good-naturedly. (I haven’t seen her since and I couldn’t remember her name if my life depended on it.) Then she stopped and looked closely at my face. She put her index finger up to my brow and drew a line from right to left. “You have eyebrows all across your head,” she said, not unkindly. And in spite of my usually poor self-image, I took it for the friendly statement of fact that it was meant to be. But I couldn’t get to the age of tweezing fast enough.

Eventually, I learned to tweeze my eyebrows. (An early harrowing scene in which my mother tried to tweeze my older cousin’s eyebrows while said cousin screamed in pain—a bit too dramatically, I realized later—made me vow never to let anyone else pluck mine.) I have enjoyed adequate eyebrows ever since…until now.

When I mention this to my contemporaries, they commiserate but are quick to point out that, on the plus side, they hardly ever have to shave their legs or underarms anymore. Such is not the case with me. It’s so unfair.

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