As promised, we have a trailer. This will give a taster of what is to come and is a big invite to all of you who want to tell us about your brows. We know that there are a lot of stories to tell about the brow and we want to hear them. Let this be the start of a Merseyside conversation about craft, technique, and styles.
Although we are not focused on one type of brow, as part of our project we are interested in finding out what people think about the ‘Scousebrow’. It has gotten negative press and snark (not linking, but easily found), and we’re interested in knowing whether such attitudes are shared by those who live in Merseyside. In order to understand the brow, you can go to YouTubers who describe what it is and how it’s done. These are varied and, looking through them, the ‘how to create the Scousebrow’ video advice peaked around 2014.
A question we are sometimes asked is: where did the word originate? It may not seem like it, but the word emerged relatively recently in 2011. For more detail, take a look at this academic paper which considers three English dialects (Scouse, Geordie, and Cockney) and a selection of related words in online searches. The author describes two details that are useful for this project. The first is that Scouse is only in use to describe someone from Liverpool since 1945 (Jensen 2017, 53) and, the second is that Scousebrow came into use thanks to the Channel 4 scripted reality TV show Desperate Scousewives (2011-12). Scousebrow became a major search term online in Scouse-related words reaching a peak in 2016 (Jensen 2017, 61-63). This is a fascinating phenomenon that has had wide-ranging coverage and interest. We would love to know how you feel about the Scousebrow, if you are from Merseyside and sculpt and craft your brows. So, come to our event at FACT from the 25th-28th of April and tell us about your brows.
Yesterday, Google created a Doodle for the Mexican version of the Mexican actress María Félix on the occasion of her 104th birthday. Her eyebrow movements were the original inspiration for this project. She was born and died on the same date – the 8th of April. The year of her birth is subject to some variation, depending on the source, but she lived a full life and died in 2002 in her eighties. She starred in 47 films and became known as La Doña – a term that denotes respect and authority – after her breakthrough role as the eponymous character Doña Bárbara (Fernando de Fuentes and Miguel M. Delgado, 1943). At the peak of her career (1940s-1950s) she was the best paid actor (male or female) in what was a flourishing industry in Mexico. Mexican film production at the time dominated the Spanish-language market in Latin American and Spain and was widely distributed throughout the world. She occasionally acted in Spanish, Italian, and French productions, but never in English. She lived a celebrity life full of scandal and glamour. By the end of her life she lived in opulent surroundings with her French husband in residences in Paris and Mexico City. Despite all of this fame and renown – or maybe because of it – her work is relatively understudied. For me, one means of understanding her work is to find new ways of discussing the brow so that I can get a keener insight into why, despite her considerable success and skill, women like her are not given the academic attention they deserve.
As part of our event at FACT we will have a trailer and an audio-visual essay co-created by Niamh Thornton and Liz Greene. We are currently working hard to edit material by vloggers and Instagrammers, and finding inspiration in the many film stars and celebrities who use their brows as part of their performances. After many hours of viewing, it has been fascinating to watch the similarities and differences in approaches and advice given. Pencils, stencils, threads, and products abound. The release date for our trailer will be next week.
When I mention that I am doing a project on eyebrows and I research Mexico, Frida Kahlo’s name is always mentioned. So, it is no surprise that in a review of an exhibition of her “intimate belongings” at the V&A her “ebony eyebrow pencils that she used to emphasise her monobrow” is included. For more, read on. Kahlo’s image is to be found on multiple objects that can be bought throughout the land. So, will the exhibit now encourage a new direction in brows, just as her Tehuana-style blouse has introduced a taste for embroidery?
Eyebrows are a constant in the press and online, with many different opinions about whose works and whose doesn’t. We want to get away from eyebrow shaming and give you an opportunity to get your eyebrow scanned, talk about what your brow means to you, and shake off the negativity around the brow. We are interested in the choices you make when you pluck, sculpt, and position your eyebrows and to challenge the current negative press around the (Scouse)brow.