The Eyebrows Have It

Among the vicissitudes of aging, I was prepared for the AARP membership invitation that recently hit my mailbox. As prepared as I could ever be, I guess, for the sample AARP magazine issue on newsprint-quality paper that practically begs you to lick a finger before turning each page. I’ve embraced my laugh lines with good grace, mostly, although the aches and pains that follow my gym workouts, somewhat less so.

What I never expected was that once I hit fifty, my light brown eyebrows would fade into a nearly invisible shade of white-blonde.


Or is that simply white? It never occurred to me that I might finish out my days with a look of perpetual astonishment on my face, but that is exactly the expression looking back at me in the mirror. For if eyes are the windows of the soul, then eyebrows are definitely the bold signposts of the emotions. Summon a mental image of the great screen actresses from the 1940s like Joan Crawford or Claudette Colbert, and which defining feature comes to mind? That’s right! Whether arched in surprise, cocked in skepticism, or furrowed in anger, for those femmes fatales their eyebrows were the most emphatic punctuation on their beautiful faces. And I’m not talking about the current high fashion trend seen on the runways for painted-on “eyebrows” that are too thin, too high, and too dark to have even a fraction of the assertive grace of their forebears’ eyebrows. 

The disappearance of my own eyebrows into a state of pallid neutrality has rendered mute an integral feature of my expressive repertoire. Now I’m beginning to appreciate why eyebrow restoration, coloring, and even false eyebrow sales are a multi-million-dollar component of the cosmetics industry. I’ve realized why my elderly parents – eyebrow-less like me – seem to regard the world’s craziness with nothing stronger than mild amusement. And why my octogenarian neighbor – the one with eyebrows so bushy, so lush, that they hang like silver awnings over the tops of his glasses – seems so fierce in comparison.

It’s all in the eyebrows, and given the choice I’ll take fierce over mild. So as soon as I pop that AARP membership form into the mail, I’ll head out in search of an eyebrow pencil that can restore the faded focal point of my emotions to their former eloquence.

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Shadow quite likes her eyebrows, just as they are.

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