Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Raising Eyebrows

Laurie Michaud-Kay


A recent article in the fashion section of our metropolitan newspaper raised my eyebrows. It confided that one of the focal points of the Fall 2006 look for American women was a well-defined eyebrow. Arched, with hairs spiked upward, it would glamorize the eye and balance the other makeup ‘must do’ for Fall – bold red lipstick.

Now this presents a problem for me. Having spent my formative years in the fifties and sixties, I was familiar with the well-defined eyebrow. All the role models on TV had plucked and penciled brows that they artistically maneuvered to convey surprise, skepticism, or astonishment. Think about Lucille Ball and Donna Reed. They never made an entrance without first facing the tweezers and a sharpened eyebrow pencil.

This concession to the standard to beauty was emulated in my home, where my two older sisters tweezed and penciled eyebrows of distinction. Being an idolizing baby sister, I couldn’t wait to be allowed to do the same. Especially since my eyebrows resembled two caterpillars at war over my nose. There’s a photograph of me at age thirteen that verifies this condition. Not even my snazzy aqua pleated skirt and matching V-neck sweater could compensate for the hairy line of brow that cuts across my face.

So when permission was granted to pluck away, I did. Under the brow, for that expressive arch, and between the brows, to show I really did have two eyebrows, not one. I especially kept after those pesky, thick hairs that seemed to want to revive the caterpillar war. I tweezed and tweezed, and as with most things I do, I got carried away. My early years of determined eyebrow care resulted in arches that vanish just after they peak and a broad open field where the caterpillars used to face off (no pun intended). And since I never got the hang of penciling in realistic-looking eyebrows (it looked like I’d used my niece’s brown Crayola), I decided to embrace the new counter-culture look. I ‘mini’mized my skirts and let my bangs hang out, thus leaving my eyebrows to nature.

As with most flower children, I outgrew the era and moved on. My hemlines dropped and my hair is decidedly shorter. Thus my dilemma with today’s fashion news. They’re still lurking there, only now my eyebrows are even thinner, and specked with gray. To make matters worse, my genetic makeup has started contributing random hairs that grow to alarming lengths, sticking up at odd angles across the brow. My trusty tweezers are always at the ready to do battle with this latest invasion. But I wonder if I should.

To be tres chic this fall, I will need eyebrows. An eyebrow pencil is out. My niece gave up Crayolas twenty-some years ago, and my skills have not improved. So, grasping at hairs, I’ve made a list of possible remedies.

Mousse. Mousse makes hair look fuller. It could also achieve that spiky look, since mousse stiffens my hair to industrial strength. I’d just have to stay out of damp, humid weather or my brows could turn from might to fright in a walk from the car.

Combing over. Taking a trick from hair-challenged men, I could allow my genetically-produced eyebrow hairs to grow even longer and then carefully comb them over the arch of each brow and down the side to cover the bald spot. Windy days could be a problem, however. Nothing worse than having your eyebrows blowing in the breeze at a football game.

Brow toupees. With a little makeup glue and some false eyebrows (courtesy of our local theatrical group), I could amass a dazzling array of brows to choose from. I might even be able to match my hair color, something I haven’t been able to do since high school.

Hair plugs. After all the pain of plucking, do I really want to establish new hair follicles, even if it is (to paraphrase a popular TV commercial) real hair that I could take for a dip in the pool and get trimmed by my favorite stylist? Perhaps a new spa package? “Manicure, pedicure, and a trim around the eyebrows? What? You want me to get rid of your caterpillars?”

So much for tres chic. Guess it’s time to again let my bangs hang out. “Far out, man.”

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Laurie Michaud-Kay began a career in writing because she was curious. She found writing provided an excuse for digging deeper into subjects, both human and academic. She turned this personality quirk into a 30-year career in corporate communications. Now retired, she lives in Tennessee…still exploring where curiosity leads.

© Laurie Michaud-Kay

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012