Learning Self-Love One Eyebrow at a Time

“Your eyebrows look just like your father’s,” is a comment that no teenage girl wants to hear during her waxing appointment. While well-meant and partially accurate, it still stung. It may seem odd to be embarrassed of your thick eyebrows when the style is technically in, but my eyebrows are more similar to dark bushy caterpillars than any groomed Instagram brow. 

I remember when they first appeared—my dainty dark brown arches had suddenly been replaced by two black beasts, which I spent the next six years trying to tame. I felt gross and unhygienic because of a few black hairs poking out of my skin. I waxed every month and constantly plucked and tweezed. I was actually jealous of the girls with skinny brows who could create their desired look with the application of powders and products while I had to pull, pluck and prod. Even now I feel calm with hot wax extremely close to my eye and can pluck the peskiest hairs with unabashed severity. Over the years, I became slightly more comfortable with my bushy brows. I almost completely stopped waxing and tweezed only every few weeks, but I was still very conscious of my brows. 

When I watched my world seemingly crumble around me during the COVID-19 pandemic, the shape of my eyebrows no longer seemed important. I didn’t pluck them for a few weeks, which quickly turned into an entire month. All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember the last time I picked up my tweezers. I decided to embark upon an experiment to completely stop grooming my brows and see what their natural shape actually was. Physically, they somehow became even thicker and I developed the dreaded unibrow which stuck out like defiant blades of grass. These changes I expected, however, the emotional effect completely surprised me. It was the first time that I ever intentionally told my body (specifically my face) that it was okay to exist as it was. It didn’t have to work to fit into a literal shape, much less one that I hadn’t even chosen in the first place. 

It was a small change and one that wouldn’t even be that noticeable to anyone else, yet it really affected my entire approach to body image and presentation. What started out as a lazy habit evolved into the start of self-acceptance and self-love. Maybe it wasn’t the eyebrows. Maybe it was the absurdity of growing up in a global pandemic, or simply the absurdity of growing up, but something shifted. It started with the brows. Accepting my natural brows opened up the floodgates for accepting my natural self. I thought I loved my brows before, but I really only loved the groomed version of them and, to some extent, the groomed version of myself. Now, I really love my eyebrows. They’re a feature, not a flaw. I love that they’re unique. No one has brows exactly like mine, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It isn’t as though one small act transformed my entire body image. I didn’t flip a switch. I still have days when I hate my face, but at least it’s my face. It looks like me. As long as I am comfortable with my brows even when they don’t meet society’s standards, it’s okay. After all, they’re just eyebrows.