Brows

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 / 8:58 PM

I have no idea how to draw on eyebrows. I'm not sure if it's something I should've sat down and learned early on. When I was 11 and getting fitted for my first wig by Miss Peggy Tom, she put a plastic stencil to my face and brushed dark brown powder to create an arched brow – first on the left, then on the right.

It didn't look good. Miss Peggy, with her wide smile and bright eyes, assured me I was beautiful, but that it was also my choice. She let me go home with the eyebrow kit anyways and told my mom to let me try it if I wanted to.

I tried – once – and it looked terrible. The brows were uneven and the powder began to smear almost immediately after I removed the second stencil. I immediately washed it off and went back to studying celebrities' faces on magazine covers in the grocery store, hoping it would inspire me to try again.

Backstage at school plays, when the volunteer moms would cake on the wrong foundation and try to glop mascara onto my thinning lashes, my lack of brows became something to argue about: I didn't want anyone to draw them on me, no matter how "good" they thought they could make them look. (Honestly, I just didn't trust anyone!) As a kid, my aunt suggested I get eyebrows tattooed on so I'd look "normal." In 2013, despite my protests, a professional makeup artist convinced me to let her draw on brows before a TV appearance.

"You'll just look better," she said.

Are you sensing a pattern for what came next? I hated it, of course, and asked her to remove them. She did, but for the rest of the time I sat in her chair, she made comments about ways I could look more "complete."

Sometimes I look at my reflection and still see the things first that are missing from my face, the things that make me "incomplete." Most days, though, I'm perfectly happy with the image staring back at me and I truly have no interest in trying to keep drawn-on brows above my eyes or fake lashes glued to my lids. I used to think I had no choice and that those were things I needed in order to "look complete." But it's not what makes me comfortable. It's not really me.

A couple years ago, I was co-hosting a show online and in the comments section for a clip posted to Facebook, someone wrote: "Does she not have eyebrows??"

I responded that I didn't, and that I have alopecia. "It's a choice," I wrote, "but I'm happy with it!"

The original poster came back quickly with a reply and said she loved the look. She herself chose to shave her own eyebrows off for cosplaying purposes, she said.

It made me smile. I'm glad I made the choice too.

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