Niamh Thornton wrote an article for The Conversation reflecting on the continued anxiety around the eyebrow, here. It was translated into Indonesian, here.
Raising, furrowing and arching: some thoughts on my brows
I have always put make-up on my eyebrows since the dawn of Instagram. Kept them looking fuller, darker, and neat, but I never really thought about them to be perfectly honest. When I became part of the Brews & Brows project I suddenly became aware of their significance in many memories I recalled, emotions I felt, and actually how important they were to my face!
I was a ‘classic’ 2000’s eyebrow make-up user (didn’t use anything on my eyebrows until the popularity of them on internet and the so called ‘instabrows’ era). I remember watching make-up tutorials on YouTube and copying “beauty influencers” to have the perfect brow. But why? Honestly, until recently, I never thought about why I cared or changed my make-up routine. I guess it was to ‘fit in’ with new these new beauty trends. Suddenly not having make-up on your eyebrows wasn’t as pretty. Which I always thought was a weird contrast to the early ‘Scousebrow’ trend. I remember newspapers reporting on Kate Middleton’s ‘Scousebrow’ but honestly, I never thought it was one. She literally just had a bit of make-up on her eyebrow. Hardly the thick and dark brow we have come to associate with Liverpool these days.
Once I started reflecting on why I even cared about my eyebrows, suddenly the meaning of many other memories I have changed. I thought about my first hairdresser struggling to pluck my brows and commenting that the hairs were “attached to my brain”. I recalled the first time I showed up to my Archery Club with no make-up (a pre-dominantly male club I might add) and they commented that “my eyebrows looked weird”. This was a particularly odd moment to me because I always thought my eye makeup was more distinctive on my face than my eyebrows! I remember getting bored of plucking my eyebrows and taking a razor to them, with disastrous results, and, at other times, desperately trying to hide my (lack of) eyebrows under my fringe at school.
Thinking about my eyebrows, and being aware of them, altered many of my memories. This awareness also made me consider how we use them emotionally. I must have raised them in shock or surprise at my hairdresser’s comments. I may have furrowed them at my fellow archers. And I also actively hid them from people! Through our brows, we are able to effectively communicate with one another. We can communicate with our best mate by simply raising an eyebrow to them. It’s these kinds of things I never really thought about until Brews & Brows. It made me consider the ways in which our emotions, opinions, identities, and even memories can change when we become aware of even a small aspect of our lives (and faces).
Emily Gibbs, University of Liverpool