Back Away From The Brows

Shaving off your eyebrows is being touted as the budget route to a hot new look in 2010 by American Vogue, but ELLIE PITHERS refuses to be brow beaten.

alistair darling cadburys Cheryl Cole eyebrows vogue

Pre-pubescent girls pluck theirs viciously as a rite of passage at weekend slumber parties, before crying silently into their pink sleeping bags as they lament their loss. Banterous boys shave half of theirs off with a self-indulgent yell of “Lad!” when they’re drunk on Strongbow at a particularly dry house party. Cadbury’s-lovers attempt to channel Roger Moore and wiggle theirs excessively in imitation of that advert on telly. The one with the dead-pan children, the ‘80s Miami electro music, and the pink scratchy balloon, which you probably didn’t realise was an advert for chocolate until you watched it through twice? 

I’m talking about eyebrows; those hairy little trails of fuzz which constitute the defining characteristic of any face. Extremely reliable scientific studies show that eyebrows are a huge part of facial recognition. Think of all those actresses who’ve made a name for themselves with their strong brows. I hate to concede any amount of kudos to Keira Knightley, since I loathe her purely on the strength of the manner in which she pronounces “Banoffee Pie” in Love Actually as though there is an abhorrently pungent smell of shit on the set, but she has got a fab pair of caterpillars. Ditto Emma Watson, whose strong brows show she means business. Camilla Belle, another favourite with the fashionistas, is also rocking a more powerful brow this season. These three women are clearly of the belief that, in these trying times, we are drawn to a thicker, more resilient brow that can withstand the ravages of economic disaster.

Eyebrows are also a firm indication of character. First up, it’s Alistair Darling, whose eyebrows practically scream insecurity. They are so big that they can clearly have only one function: as a security blanket to protect him against the hair-raising horrors he faces everyday as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is common knowledge that one should never trust a man whose eyebrow colour is the exact antithesis to that of his hair. Darling’s nature may have lived up to his name in his Peter Pan years, but these days, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Cruella De Vil.

Moving swiftly onwards (see below), we meet Anthony Marshall, the 85-year-old scion of one of America’s most famous families, who was convicted in October of this year of looting his socialite mother’s $198 million estate. The Marshall case has been bubbling away since 2006, when Marshall’s son accused his father of forcing his own mother, Brooke Astor, the doyenne of the Upper East Side society (think ‘original Gossip Girl’), to live in squalor in her Park Avenue apartment in her final years. It took three years for Marshall and his lawyer to be brought to justice – but one glance at his eyebrows would have told you all you need to know. They are in desperate need of grooming, have clearly been neglected for a good too many years, and require a dramatic clean up. Much like Marshall’s mother.


But, dear readers, a worrying trend has emerged to furrow my brow. It is one so all-consuming that I can hardly think of anything else. I’m so worried that I run to the mirror every minute or so to check mine are still intact. My hands fly to them when I am suddenly reminded of how precious they are to me. I give them a little stroke every now and again to calm myself down.

Eyebrows are no longer being held in the esteem that they deserve. Some Fashion People have now declared that brows are bad. They have even gone so far as to suggest that they should be SHAVED OFF.

Sarah Brown, the Beauty Director of American Vogue says: “People are saying: ‘How can I shake things up? I may not be able to buy myself a new handbag every three months, but what can I do to feel fresh and current and in style?” She then featured a Steven Klein shot in the August issue of Vogue of a model epilated above the eyes. “Everything is possible. This is a great way to look at the moment.” So for anyone looking for a way to spice up their look this January, just go get a razor and do the dirty on your brow.

Apparently, we should interpret the Autumn 2009 Givenchy adverts featuring models with either bleached or removed brows as an ‘optimistic and idealistic statement’. According to some random fashion PR girl, “It’s unifying. There is an asexual element to no eyebrows. We are much more accepting of the ‘other’ nowadays. Removing eyebrows removes a degree of expression, which makes one look less human and more cerebral, maybe even mechanical. It’s an exercise in modernity.” 

I think I can vouch for all of us when I say that the mono-brow should have been outlawed years ago, and that I, too, secretly fantasise about leaning over my lecturer and applying some wax to that hairy square of skin above his nose, ripping out those thick black hairs to give birth to something beautiful – two caterpillars instead of one. Wouldn’t the world be a better place for everyone if they didn’t have to look at that mono-brow at nine o’clock every morning? Don’t even get me started on brows that look like they’ve been drawn on with a sharpy. Oh, Cheryl, when you made the fatal error of getting too feisty with the tweezers, I was almost permanently frozen in my standard Saturday night slouch, rendered immobile in a paroxysm of fear fuelled by the two dead pieces of liquorice perilously hanging above your eyes, melting ever so slightly under the bright lights of the X Factor.

But, dear readers, can shaving off our eyebrows really be a modern statement, a reflection of an economic downturn, a dramatic new look without the price tag? Proponents of this foul movement scream “YES, YES, YES!” as they point to their browless beauty icons, Elizabeth I, Lady Gaga and the Mona Lisa. Apparently it’s not her smile that makes her enigmatic, it’s her empty forehead.

What these misguided fashionistas can never comprehend is that if we lose these two furry caterpillars, we lose the very essence of humanity. Eyebrows are in fact the core of every human being. Eyebrows give definition to our faces, win Chanel contracts for women who pronounce “Banoffee Pie” in an excruciatingly irritating manner, and teach us which New Yorkers robbed their Mamas.

But the most important function of an eyebrow? One small cock of a brow, and you’ve got a bona fide flirting face that works every time. And that, my furry friends, is what makes the world go round.