Reflections

Eyebrows as a metaphor for love

I have recently moved, started a new job, thrown myself into volunteer work, reunited with friends, and began a class studying Ecolinguistics. All of these things are great excuses for not writing, but that is exactly what they are; excuses. The truth is, I have not felt the inkling to write anything because my life does not seem all that interesting at the moment. As I reflect on the last two months, I guffaw at the fact that my life seems boring because holy shit, in the last two months my entire life has changed. Any one of the events listed above would be enough to cause stress, but all of those combined leads me to believe that is why I am just now coming up for air.

Beneath the surface of typical life changes, I have also been wrestling with emotional changes as well. After being physically away from my friends for an entire year, I now have to navigate our friendships outside of the collegiate world and understand that each one of us has changed in many ways. For some, they have not changed at all and that seems to resonate with me with an aura of negativity and resistance to keep them in my circle. By far the hardest demon to deal with is realizing that a dear friend who you love and respect no longer feels like just a friend. You are intimidated by his intelligence but hungry for more conversations. Despite the fact that he has a girlfriend (you think…it appears this may no longer be the case but to be safe you are assuming he still does) you long for the days when you could talk about everything and anything. Reality sets back in and you ache for that connection, yet realize that distance separates you two. The feelings do not disappear, but your life continues as the world keeps spinning.

When I say the world keeps spinning, I wake up with the reality that I have to go to work every single day. My commute takes half an hour and each time I get into my little Prius, I want to rip out the radio because I swear to God if I hear “Cheap Thrills” by Sia one more time I am going to drive off the I-35 bridge. Today, however, was Sunday. I lazily stayed in bed reading and snuggling with the most loving beagle on the planet. I shuffled to the bathroom midmorning to brush my teeth. As I looked at my sun-kissed face in the mirror I was immediately drawn to my eyebrows. Most people in my close circle know that the most complicated relationship in my life is the one with my eyebrows. I inherited every single Eastern European and Italian gene that my family carried. I was dark and hairy in every nook and cranny. Most of it I could hide well but my eyebrows were the exception.

In high school I would often get teased for having bushy eyebrows. It got so bad that one ill-fated evening I asked my best friend to pluck my eyebrows for me. I was fifteen and extremely resistant to giving into beauty standards. My mom knew she had many years ahead of her of my explaining how much I wanted to destroy the patriarchy and never have children. From the day I came home and told her I learned about feminism it was going to be a radical ride. As you can see, I sunk to a new low point of self-esteem if I was having my best friend alter my appearance because people were teasing me. As I lay flat on my floor with my fists clenched I was secretly crying on the inside. What was I doing this for? Why was it so important? To this day, my friend and I reminisce about this eyebrow plucking moment. We laugh about it now, but inside I still feel so much shame.

A couple of years later, my mom and I went to get haircuts together. As I was sitting in the chair, my hair stylist looks at me in the mirror and asks, “would you like me to work on my eyebrows?” My face turns beet red and I turn over to my mom. She gives a nod of approval and I embarrassingly tell my stylist, “yes.” She takes me to the back of the salon and as I nervously sit in the chair and tip my head back, the stylist looks at my eyebrows closer, laughs, and says, “oh God, I’m going to make sure we get these caterpillar looking things off your face!” I was devastated.

I continued through high school and college occasionally plucking my eyebrows (mostly the hour before going to a party because those were very low points in my life). I went to get waxed two other times, instantly regretting it each time, and remained incredibly self-conscious about each black, shaggy eyebrow hair. After I graduated college and went on to the working world, something in me shifted. Throughout my first job I struggled with a whole other level of insecurities but in a way these new insecurities helped me overcome my loathing of eyebrows. On a particularly low night in October, I was looking at myself in the mirror and began laughing (later turned into crying). At the time, the laughter symbolized a certain level of hysteria, a way to mask emotions and feelings I was not ready to face yet. I did, however, take an important step that night. I decided that for an entire year I would not alter my eyebrows in any way, shape, or form. I would not pluck, wax, shave (long story…), or negatively address those particular hairs. From this point on I would embrace them. I was doing fairly well with this newfound perspective. I noticed that on the rare occasions when I wore make-up, my black eyebrows would actually look more pronounced and I really liked it. It made my face look bold, confident, and dare I say it, sexy! I could ride this high forever!

Unfortunately, like most highs, a low is always imminent. In preparation for a wedding, I was getting ready with a couple of girlfriends and one of them was touching up my eyes. Before I knew what was happening, I felt a very unpleasant pulling on my face. She was plucking my eyebrows! I abruptly pulled my face away from her and laughingly asked what she was doing. Out of love, she said they just needed a little grooming. They were beautiful, they just needed to be cleaned up. I let her continue what she was doing but on the inside I was enraged. Who was she to decide if my eyebrows needed to be cleaned up? I thought they looked fabulous. Luckily, this grueling process only took a couple of minutes. As I looked in the mirror, my eyes were immediately drawn to the drastic changes in my eyebrows. I mourned the loss of each hair that was plucked. Those hairs represented a protest against beauty standards. More than that, however, those hairs represented my bold confidence and acceptance of what I was born with.

I have since come to a place of realizing that confidence and self-esteem do not need to be measured by my eyebrows. Since that dreadful evening in November of having a friend pluck my eyebrows I have held my ground and not altered the way they look. So this morning, when I was immediately drawn to my eyebrows, it was not out of hate. For the first time ever, I looked at them and smiled. In this moment, my eyebrows unintentionally became a metaphor for love. These feelings, or whatever I may decide to call them, for my friend cannot be altered. They are there, screaming at me to embrace them, yet I keep resisting. Just like my eyebrows, these deep feelings of towards this human remain with me until I decide what to do with them. I could have shaved off my eyebrows years ago and lived my life, but then I wouldn’t be me. Love is love is love is love. However much you try to hide, however many miles separate the two of you, however long you run, they will always come find you. Feed the hunger, ignite the spark, engage in intellectual conversations, and always remember what your mother told you-never shave your eyebrows.

[image via pinterest]

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