Women’s eyebrow trends in America have changed throughout the decades, from pencil-thin brows in the ’20s to the thick brows of today. Despite the many different styles over the years, it seems as if women who cannot meet modern-day eyebrow standards are ridiculed and ostracized.
Most people care too much about their eyebrows looking perfect, but there is also a recent new trend: the “edgy” no eyebrow look. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry have done photo shoots with bleached eyebrows, and different fashion models have sported “ghost eyebrows” on the runway. It all seems to be an attempt at doing something strikingly different, but none of the women showing off these looks would voluntarily live their lives without eyebrows.
For people who do not have eyebrows or have “ghost eyebrows,” life is nothing like a fashion show. Whether they lost their eyebrows because of sickness, disorders or their natural eyebrow hair color appears nearly invisible, most women try almost everything to look “normal” to those around them.
People can lose their eyebrows from cancer treatments, alopecia or even a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania. No matter the reason, most women try to fix the problem by drawing on eyebrows, gluing on fake eyebrows or even going so far as to tattoo them on their face. Living with no eyebrows is a constant struggle because without them, society deems women ugly or abnormal.
Kendall Jenner is one of the many models who sported no eyebrows on the runway. Though she used that trend at a show, she is uneducated on what it’s like to live without eyebrows on a long term basis.
“When I was younger, on a totally weird whim, I plucked out all of my eyebrows,” Jenner said in a blog post on her website. “Thankfully, they grew back, but my sisters flipped OUT.”
In her blog post, Jenner describes the main symptom of trichotillomania. Though it seems like she only went through this experience one time, most people with the disorder suffer through pulling their eyebrows for most of their lives.
Jenner would never be caught on a normal day with less than perfect eyebrows. It’s insulting to explain her plucking out her eyebrows as a “totally weird whim” because doing so is an actual disorder many people struggle with.
Eyebrows are a highly commodified part of the face, and as society’s standards of the “perfect eyebrow” become more and more picky, it is harder for women to fit those standards. A lot of women are made to feel like they must constantly maintain and shape their eyebrows, and they often go out and have them threaded, plucked or waxed so they can adhere to cultural standards. Many enjoy the act of maintaining their eyebrows because it allows them to feel beautiful, but society introduced the idea of perfect eyebrows defining beauty in the first place.
It’s not only in America, either. In other countries such as India, eyebrows are such an important staple to beauty that some women go as far as to bleach their face to help make their eyebrows pop. All around the world, there is too much importance placed on the hair that sits above the eyes.
Current American eyebrow culture also shows a prime example of the cultural appropriation in the country. The trend right now is thick brows, and although a lot of ethnic women have always had bushy, harder-to-maintain eyebrows, it has only become trendy now that white women have started to do it.
As a woman who will probably never have the eyebrows people want me to have, I know I must rock the eyebrows I have been given. Eyebrow culture is too intense and too unforgiving, and a person’s beauty should be defined by the individual, not by what society considers trendy.
Lynne Bunch is an 18-year old mass communication freshman from Terrytown, Louisiana.