Susan Andrews
July 02, 2013 7:00 am

Growing up as a young woman, there are so many firsts: your first crush, your first boyfriend, your first kiss. But there’s one that, if not done right that very first time, has the potential to send you down a path of anguish and regret for the rest of your life. I’m talking about your very first eyebrow tweezing.

I’ve clumsily made my way through my first awkward sexual experience and have had my share of sloppy first kisses. I can laugh about these things now, knowing that I’ve improved with age and practice. At least in my mind. But how I wish someone would have told me how to tweeze correctly.

In my experience, this is something that should never be attempted unsupervised. The stakes are just too high. I know you may be thinking, What’s the big deal? They’ll grow back. I’ve discovered that hair does grow back, just not where I want it to. My legs need constant grooming, as do other personal body parts that are hidden from public view. I use depilatories and wax regularly, keeping my secret garden manicured and designed according to the latest Cosmo magazine (thank you societal pressure). And no matter how much effort I put into looking like a hairless cat, my follicles spring new growth in as little as a few weeks. But for some reason, after having tweezed my own eyebrows, they only have a fifty percent chance of growing back in fully. Why is that?

Now, my eyebrows hold a grudge and refuse to grow back. My inexperienced youthful years of tweezing was more detrimental than that bad perm and lip waxing which left me looking like Bozo the Clown right before my sister’s wedding (sorry about those wedding photos, sis).

As I struggled through those awkward years, my eyebrows sprouted like a wild thicket across my forehead. Ugly Betty had nothing on me. I sported a caterpillar monobrow that would never turn into a beautiful butterfly.

So I did what any insecure teen would do. I complained about it incessantly until my mom told me to tweeze it. Instead of lending me her dainty expensive tweezers that she kept hidden in a felt drawstring bag, she bought me my own heavy-duty durable pair. The equivalent of mini Craftsman pruning sheers. I locked myself in the bathroom wielding my shiny new tweezers, which, from what I know now, is basically equivalent to letting a child play with scissors.

After minimal instruction from my mother to “just tweeze the area above the nose, and be sure to pull the hair out by the root,” she left me alone to go at it. This is just like weeding the yard, I thought. My eyebrow was a new dandelion, and I plucked and yanked with verve. I didn’t stop until I created two short caterpillars and left behind a significant pile of hair in the sink that made my stomach twinge.

Pile or no pile. I had two eyebrows! I was blissfully ignorant of what I had done, until my friends pointed out my artistic flaw the next day at school. I had just whittled down a perfect palette that had the potential to become Vogue-worthy eyebrows into two uneven arches that would never regrow the same. I didn’t know about trimming the long hairs with scissors. I just plucked with carefree abandon until a wide uneven gap appeared over my nose. The mathematics of drawing an imaginary line from the outer corner of my nose to the inner corner of my eye as a guideline was never mentioned. My instructions were given as loosely as lather, rinse and repeat.

How I wish I had a professional eyebrow waxing. My limited instruction on DIY tweezing had left me looking like a freak of nature, or so I thought.

I grew out my bangs to hide my odd-looking, self-imposed flaw. “They’ll grow back,” my mom said casually, as she penciled on her own pair of eyebrows with a chocolate brown crayon that made her look a little like Elvira. If eyebrows grow back, then what happened to hers? I’ve seen old photos of my mom with beautiful pencil-thin eyebrows. They were like a movie star’s. But now they were peach fuzz and barely visible to the naked eye. I think there’s nothing worse than having to draw on eyebrows with the dreaded fear of wiping one off by accident once the temperature soars above seventy-five degrees. My mom erased hers so often that I was put on ‘eyebrow patrol’ during summer barbecues to save her from embarrassment. “Are my eyebrows still on?” she’d ask while dabbing her beaded brow with a tissue. I always had heart palpitations watching her sketch on her face.

As for my newly created defoliation, she must’ve seen the fear in my eyes because she tried consoling me. “Trust me. I’m your mother.” Well, the fact is my eyebrows didn’t grow back to their original bushy caterpillar state. Unfortunately, I did an excellent job of plucking them out by the root. My legs, however, continue to sprout hair with reckless abandon no matter how much nuclear reactive, hair-busting cream I use.

Now every morning as I pencil in the bald spot over my left eye and add an extra quarter-inch line to my right brow, I grieve for what I once had.

When I have a daughter, her first time will be wonderful. Her monobrow will be treated with respect. Waxed to perfection by a professional and then lavished in expensive creams that don’t contain menthol. Her lush eyebrows will perfectly frame her face and accentuate her eyes. Most importantly, she can attend summer barbecues with carefree abandon.

 Featured image via ShutterStock

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