I don’t generally think that much about my eyebrows. Because if you think too hard about eyebrows, they become weird. They’re like, these two hairy spots on your face that everyone but Whoopi Goldberg has that wiggle when you talk and keep crap out of your eyes. Who cares? That said, I like my eyebrows a lot and am generally pretty protective of them.
It wasn’t always this way. In elementary school, the other kids would tease me about my unibrow until I cried. They also teased me for my giant lips, my last name and the fact that I carried a Unicef box at Halloween. Kids are assholes. When I came of age in the late nineties, it was fashionable to wax your eyebrows into two little strips of nothing, like Britney Spears or The Spice Girls. (Sorry Spice Girls, I love you but you were bad eyebrow role models.) On my insistence, my mom took me to a beauty salon when I was 13, where a woman with no eyebrows of her own waxed mine painfully tiny because eyebrows were her enemy. I looked like a French whore. Luckily, they grew back and I never got waxed again, preferring to pluck out the stray hairs that were bothering me. (I had a friend who was great at plucking and did it for me.)
When I moved to the city, I discovered eyebrow threading and was sold. An ancient beauty technique originating in “the East” (from South Asia to the Arab world), this technique uses rolled up thread to pluck hair at the follicle level. It can be used to remove unwanted hair anywhere on your face. It looks cool (and maybe a little bit scary) on those giant TV screens they have outside some threading places, but most importantly, the women who do it have eyebrows. I don’t want to sound racist against people with no eyebrows, but I don’t trust them to give me the subtly shaped brows I desire.
Does it hurt? They’re ripping hairs out of your skin, of course it fucking hurts. Plus, it takes longer than waxing, drawing out the pain. But there’s no danger of getting burned by hot wax, making it easier on your skin, and the technique allows them to go hair by hair, shaping your brows precisely. (A good threader will stop every now and then to show you your face in the mirror and ask if you’d like them to take off more.) And, as someone who’s into cheap thrills, I kind of enjoy the sinking feeling I get in my stomach right before the threader rips out a row of hairs. It’s not unlike going on a roller coaster. A roller coaster that makes you pretty!
This is the only kind of professional hair removal I have done, and I don’t take the decision lightly. I generally think it’s messed up that women are expected to spend tons of money and put ourselves through pain to obtain smooth, perfect baby bodies, while men aren’t. But I really, really like the results I get from threading, and my face is something people see every day, so it’s worth it to me. Plus, it’s cheap; my threading place charges $6. And if I get enough stamps on my card, I get a free one!
And can we talk about how happy I am that thick, natural eyebrows have made a comeback? They seem to have outlasted the ’80s fashion trend and into the current ’90s resurgence, because the early ’90s styles people are copying now are way cooler than the late ’90s styles I experienced in middle school. Even Dov Charney agrees. I’m not saying you should listen to Dov Charney about anything, but I think he got this one very small thing right in his own creepy, vaguely fascist way. (You cannot force good eyebrows on people. They have to arrive at them on their own.)
Where to go:
I get my eyebrows done at Amazing Eyebrows, because they do an amazing job on my eyebrows. I’ve also gone to Saloni Threading off Union Square. But if you live in a different city, I’m sure there are plenty of good recommendations waiting for you on Yelp. I haven’t seen too many threading salons outside of major metropolitan areas, but I’m sure they exist. They’re especially popular in places with a large South Asian community.