Arouse the Brows

by Pippa Brooks

I am obsessed with people who become their own creation, who take their appearance to the extreme, or to somewhere outside the generic comfort zone. Eyebrows are a great signifier of inner chutzpah.

Take Divine (above) and Kembra Pfahler (below), who both decided that shaving their hairline way back would be the best way to give the world more face; to make room for more make-up and allow for the ultimate in expressive brows. Brows are big in beauty right now, but whatever the kit or stencil, whoever’s the how-to video, everyone seems to end up with exactly the same shape. It might fade from centre to tip, or it might be pink, but it always has a square, blocked centre, flicking out to a perfect point.

It’s a bit like when you look at fashion magazines from the Fifties and all the models have a liquid-liner cat’s eye. But, hello… those were the days when you spat in your cake mascara and had only three choices of lip colour. The mind boggles at all the daily new make-up permutations; from luminisers to reflective sands, the appetite for cosmetic innovation is voracious and unquenchable. Yet the desire to conform to this ultimate, perfect-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder cookie-cutter eyebrow is pathological. This brow shape says nothing. Nothing, except: “My forehead is frozen and I live for a dewy glow.”

If you’re going to tattoo your eyebrows, children, think Vali Myers or Holly Woodlawn (above), please do NOT consult a “browologist”… shudder! All you will end up with is a permanent version of the deadpan reality-star stare.

If you are considering a brow lift, think Orlan (above) and have a couple of cute horns inserted above the brow line; imagine the highlighting and contouring possibilities! And if you’re plucking, for goodness sake, pluck to fuck! Those Warhol Superstars knew where eyebrows were at. Two words: Jane Forth (below); eyebrow genius right there.

Think Pat Cleveland (above) walking on air for Halston, or flying for Bill King; no stimulants needed, just a good pair of tweezers.

Grace Jones knows eyebrows. Whether partly or entirely shaved, her eyebrow shape over the years is an education in changing up your look. Google her looks for her One Man Show video and Fame album (above, top) and you’ll see where I’m coming from. Whether androgynous and natural (with maybe a tough little sticking plaster across one brow to suggest a recent boxing injury... see above) or a furious, uncompromising arch, her eyebrows have always said: “Bring it!”

And there’s nothing wrong with going natural… but go properly natural. Frida Kahlo (above) was the queen of the natural brow and is the best place to start for inspiration. Facial hair for women is one of the last beauty taboos, including upper-lip hair. In these gender-fluid times, let’s celebrate, not depilate!