Flashback Friday

For nearly two years now, I have used this space to archive blog entries that I have written which generally focus on my experience as a sideshow performer, as well as the various adventures I shared with my best friend Jon and other assorted articles that carry reoccurring themes.  One of those is body modification, which has been a large part of my life since discovering BME and being exposed to individuals who had tattoos, piercings, dyed hair and an overall alternative aesthetic.  At one point I made an attempt to collect a variety of editorials and articles into a magazine, but funding and lack of interest prevented the idea from becoming a tangible thing, despite the fact that I had completed an entire issue by myself.  The purpose in mentioning this is that there are writings scattered around which I feel should be saved here along with everything else, to serve as a testament to my thoughts, opinions and feelings about certain topics, as they do not tend to change very often.  The following article was originally written [and posted on another blog] on July 22, 2009, though the sentiments expressed are still very much valid.

Would You Shave Off Your Eyebrows in the Name of Fashion?

According to the author of this articleCourtney Dunlop, bleaching or waxing the eyebrows is becoming a new trend, the result of which is “a very bizarre, androgynous alien creature completely void of expression.”

This look was featured on the Fall 2009 runways of Balenciaga and Prada, where beauty and fashion editors were apparently shocked that the top models had been convinced to bleach their brows.  As Dunlop put it, “then came Brazillian bombshell Adriana Lima as a brow-free Marilyn Manson-lookalike for the latest Givenchy campaign.”  The August issue of Italian Vouge features model Kristen McMenamy, who also sports the browless look, and has apparently been doing so on and off since the late 90’s.

“A great question was posed in this article from the Daily Mail about whether or not the non-conformist trend will trickle down to the masses, like punk did in the 1970s.

I’m sure a few lovers of the avant-garde will give it a go, but I don’t see how anyone else in their right mind would want to embrace the look,” Dunlop says.

The Daily Mail article explains “how eyebrows are linked to sex appeal and pretty much every expression a human face can make, which is why people look so alien when brows are taken away.”

First and foremost, I would like to address the high school grade insults that I felt were not needed.  Certainly there is going to be a shock when someone decides to remove their eyebrows, and of course I can agree that the result is somewhat alien-like.  However, I feel that the look suits some people, as they have other elements to their over all appearance where the lack of brows fit in.  Marilyn Manson is also definitely not the innovator of shaved eyebrows.  Anyone remember when David Bowie rocked the whole Ziggy Stardust persona?  In that sense, I can totally see the alien connection, but he just happened to be playing that type of character so it worked.

The first time I even touched my eyebrows with a pair of tweezers was possibly in eighth grade.  Being a student of a Catholic school, we were not allowed to wear makeup or what they deemed ‘unacceptable’ hair accessories [they did not like my single braid with plastic beads], but for some reason I felt compulsion to pluck a few hairs from my brows.  That eventually led to more preening, to get them a bit thinner since I felt they sat too close to my eyes.

Then the razor came out and my eyebrows were entirely gone by the time I was a junior in high school.  If memory serves me correct, I did it for Halloween to wear these stick-on rhinestone jewels that were meant for the eyes, but I felt they looked better as replacement brows.  After that, there was much face doodling of different shapes, designs and colors. Makeup was definitely another art form to me then [as much as it is now], so I enjoyed experimenting with different things and making the administration uncomfortable.

Drawn on brows with eyeliner.

With much practice and patience, the shape eventually became one I felt fit my face and did my best to replicate this when applying makeup.   For special events or nights out at the club, I would get a bit more artistic and pretty much do whatever I felt like.  Obviously there were many reactions by the public, with plenty of laughs and rude comments slung my way.  However, there were also people who gave compliments, the best one being when asked if my eyebrows were actually tattooed on.  To me, that just meant I was doing such a good job that people could not tell if it was makeup or permanent ink. It took some time for me to get used to seeing my reflection in the mirror, but as the months went on, it no longer seemed like something out of the ordinary, and shaving them off became routine.

Subtle makeup and no brows.

My thoughts have turned to having permanent eyebrows on more than one occasion, which is something that I have been considering for about five or six years now.  The first idea was to have cosmetic tattooing, so that the shape I wanted would always be there to serve as a guide, and then I could adjust color and shape as I desired.  A few years later, I met a couple of people who had what I like to call ‘tribal dots’, which are pretty much what they sound like: bold black circles that serve as a substitute for the usual hairy eyebrows.  Again I feel that this suits some people and not others, but of course all body modification is a personal choice and everyone should do what makes them happy.

If curiosity leads one to wonder as to why I have not taken the plunge yet, I have an honest answer.  Tattooing my face is something that I take very seriously.  While I have facial piercings, they are usually kept at a small gauge out of personal preference and can either be removed or switched out with clear jewelry to make them more ‘invisible’ if desired .  Tattoos on the face, however, are very prominent and something I will have to see for the rest of my life, so I want to be absolutely sure it is something I can commit to.  My large ear lobes, neck tattoo and hand tattoo are most likely the things that get attention from the general public, and I cannot tell you how many times I hear whispers about how big the lobes are and other assorted nonsense.  People act as though I am somehow completely unaware of the things I have done to my body and thus feel the need to point them out – oddly enough, it is never to my face, but they sure talk loud enough for me to hear them.  Certainly having facial tattoos will invite much more unwanted commentary and wide-mouthed stares, which I have been preparing myself for with the makeup dots.

Trademark 'face dots' made with makeup.

Memory fails as to the first time I ever applied these on my face and looked in the mirror, wondering if they were something I wanted to see there on a daily basis.  They started out small, more as accents to the blended colors of whatever makeup I was wearing that day, and then evolved into more defined shapes as seen in the image on the left.  For the most part, the ‘top dots’ match whatever my hair color happens to be, while the ‘bottom dots’ either coordinate with the eyeshadow or color of whatever outfit I am wearing.  Once again, I have had many people ask me if they are tattoos, and I have managed to even fool some of my friends into thinking the same thing.  When I find an artist I can trust, save up enough money and am in a position where I am comfortable enough in my sideshow career where I do not have to worry whether having my face tattooed would be a problem, I will certainly have these dots permanently inked into my skin.  Which, honestly, will make me very happy since it would drastically cut down on the time I spend creating them with makeup.

Going back to Dunlop’s article, I would like to say with much pride that I am in fact someone of sound mind who readily embraces being eyebrowless.  There are plenty of women out there, mainly in subcultures, who either tweeze their brows or shave them off completely and draw them on in a variety of ways.  As far as I know, this practice is not some widespread lunacy, but rather a conscious choice made to please personal aesthetics.  If people do not like it, they can simply direct their attention elsewhere and leave us expressionless aliens to be happy in our lack of brows.


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