It’s not often — save in the micro-managed world of fashion and beauty — that such a small space can garnish such attention. But flip through any fashion magazine or website, and you’ll find that the humble eyebrow is having a moment. It’s challenging to name any currently celebrity to point to as a muse, but subtly is the calling card of this trend.
It’s been about two decades since fashion has focused its fleeting attention on eyebrows. Back in the early 1990s, it was all about plucking them into slender lines of near-oblivion, a way to feminize the grungy plaid shirts and baggy jeans of the day. Now, however, those in the know are letting their brows grow in to a carefree, youthful fullness.
If you’ve never really thought of how your eyebrows look, don’t worry. For most of us, they’re just there on our face. Even scientists are skeptical as to eyebrows’ purpose in our physiology. It’s been assumed that eyebrows help keep dust and water out of our eyes; ideal when our early forefathers were hunting, but superfluous in these days of designer and dollar-store sunglasses and tissue.
Psychologists may have suggested a better rationale for eyebrows’ existence. Eyebrows can indicate our mood and personality; according to www.bigsiteofamazingfacts. com, they make tiny, involuntary movements as we speak and think, providing honest if subtle cues to those in conversation with us. If you’re happy, they’ll move upwards; sad or concerned, ever so slightly downwards. These movements were probably pretty essential to our forefathers’ physical survival when meeting new tribes, just as they are to our social lives today.
These days, the messages eyebrows provide can be misconstrued. Someone who has had a lot of Botox or facial surgery may have immobile brows. There are also the people who take creative liberties with the shape of their brows, drawing them on (and always with too-dark pencil, it seems!) with odd arcs and severe angles. Eyebrow tattoos were a trend a few years ago — until people realized that permanent brows may not be the best idea on an ever-moving face.
We’re not the first demographic to deal with shifting, and shifty, brow trends. Aristocratic Japanese women have been plucking their brows since the 8th century, only to re-draw high arches, while Renaissance women — the woman who inspired the Mona Lisa, for example — didn’t bother redrawing after plucking. Perhaps most curiously, upper-class women in Georgian England shaved off their brows completely and pasted replicas made from mouse hides higher up on their foreheads to compliment their wigs… it makes you rethink the term “highbrow,” doesn’t it?
We’ve come a long way, but it remains a challenge, even for dictatorial make-up artists and celebrity stylists, to say what a “perfect” eyebrow is. Generally speaking, it has to match the face it’s on. Extremely sculpted arches — think of Marlene Dietrich’s slender brows — pair well with a sophisticated womanly look, and suggest of the time it takes spent in a mirror achieving such a look. Thicker, less tended brows — like Audrey Hepburn in her gamine days, or a young Brooke Shields suggestively advertising jeans — give off a more youthful air.
If you’re one of the many who plucked their brows into some defined shape long ago — and goodness knows I’m right there with you, coming of age in those slender-browed early 1990s — it can be so very challenging to give in to fashion’s zeitgeist and hide the tweezers for a few weeks so your brows can grow in a bit. If you’re an eyebrow virgin, it’s best to only use the tweezers on any truly errant hairs and keep your natural shape, perhaps using an old, clean toothbrush to push them into a nice shape. This advice also applies to any men looking to maintain a tidy appearance — after all, any column on eyebrows would be remiss if it didn’t mention the often-mocked, much-dread unibrow!
The approaching long weekend is the unofficial start of summer. This recipe, while not a crowning achievement of culinary ambition, is a fun one for the kids to try.
Cake Batter Fudge
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk
Mix cake mix and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Add butter and milk. Microwave for two minutes, then stir until completely combined. Add sprinkles but do not over-mix, as colours may bleed. Spread into a greased 6x6 pan and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Note: I made this with chocolate cake and chocolate chips. I don’t have a microwave, so I melted the butter on my stove, then added everything else.