I Done Been Shaped

I headed to the nail salon on my way out of town for a pre-BlogHer manicure. It’s like the pre-prom manicure. For one day a year it’s nice to pay $20 to your Korean fairy godmother and pretend that you are a dainty specimen of femininity who always has perfectly painted pink fingernails and has never heard of a cuticle.

I personally find the trimming of the cuticle very perplexing. Why has that portion of skin been determined to be unacceptable? No one goes around trimming off the spare wrinkly skin from their elbow pit every time it grows back. We just assume that if the skin’s there, it’s supposed to be.

Every time I go in for a manicure once a year I notice various “waxing” services on the price list. I begin feeling sad about my eyebrows. They are one part of my personal grooming that seem like they should be easy to take care of but I am terrified to start plucking or allow someone else to do it.

Since it was the day before I would speak at a conference and meet hundreds of new people, it seemed like a good time to make a drastic life and beauty change. Without looking up, I mumbled to my esthetician that I’d like to get my eyebrows “done.”

“Get them done” like it was something I did every day or every 28 years.

“Sure,” she said as she skillfully applied white paint to the tips of my nails.

I started to have second thoughts. What if they did something crazy? What if I ended up looking semi-permanently deranged, angry or quizzical? I looked up at the girl who had just helped me lose 3 lbs of excess cuticle and was about to transform the whole look of my face. She had no eyebrows.

Okay. That’s an exaggeration. She had a line of hairs above each eye, outlined with a single stroke of brown liner which was thicker than the actual brow.

I started to panic.

“Um… so I just want a little off my eyebrows. Nothing drastic. I’ve never done this before and I’m really nervous. I’d rather take off too little than too much. Let’s just go easy.”

“Are you saying that because of the way my eyebrows look?”

Awkward silence.

“Because I don’t like my eyebrows either. I’ve never had eyebrows. They just grew in like this.”

And I was quiet. And she shaped me and plucked me and they actually looked quite lovely for a few days.

At first I kept up with the lawn maintenance, tweezers in hand each night, quickly snagging up any little guy that tried to make his way back into the fold. But I’ve let it go too long and now I’m afraid, afraid I’ll pull the wrong one and end up lopsided or with the apparent derangement of which I spoke previously.

I remember Amalah once talking about how eyebrows were the one thing you needed to keep up because if you had nice eyebrows but no makeup you look like you’re running late but if you have crazy overgrown brows, you look like you just don’t care.

So for about 4 weeks of my entire life, I looked like I cared and now I’m wondering if I care enough to continue to look like I do…

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29 Responses to I Done Been Shaped

  1. chilihead says:

    My friends joke that eyebrow waxing is the poor woman’s face lift.

  2. Marian says:

    “I personally find the trimming of the cuticle very perplexing. Why has that portion of skin been determined to be unacceptable?” I actually wonder about this very same thing every year when I get my once-every- year-or-two manicure. What did cuticles ever do to deserve such rigid scrutiny?

  3. Kimberly says:

    As the owner of a particularly dark and bushy unibrow may I say, a pair of tweezers is a girl’s best friend? Make sure they’re the slant edged kind. Normaly tweezers are no good, to unwieldly. I tackle my brows once a week, pulling out strays. That way it’s easier to stay on course and not get freaked out.

  4. Azúcar says:

    Trimming cuticles makes your nails look longer.

    Eyebrows really do make a difference. If I don’t have time for full makeup, I still never skip the brows. Even if you did regular makeup (shadow, mascara, lips,) if you don’t do the brows it just doesn’t look right.

  5. Eve says:

    A little pluck along the lines makes a girl look less tired.

  6. MaryC says:

    “Are you saying that because of the way my eyebrows look?”

    Oh sheesh, how did you not run away after that? How totally awkward! She must get that kind of response all the time to be so forward in asking that.

    I agree that having nice eyebrows makes a difference, but it is just one more thing that I do only when I have extra minutes to think about it, which means it doesn’t get done often. I’ve “had them done” only once and it was so fast it makes me wish I did that kind of thing more regularly!

  7. Jessica says:

    If I didn’t get my eyebrows done, I would look like large brown caterpillars were crawling across my forehead. However, I don’t have the kind of down-time I used to, since 2 kids and a job keep me busy–so I get them waxed probably every 8 weeks and just tweeze the strays in between. It works ok, although I wish I had time to do them once a month…the last week or so can be pretty hairy. Hehehehe.

  8. Thea says:

    O.K. I am also completely freaked out about tweezing. No doubt, I need it, but I just can’t bring myself to have my eyebrows done, either….

  9. Janssen says:

    I have super dark eyebrows and blonde hair, so I try to keep mine pretty under control. I also touch my eyebrows a lot (sort of a nervous habit), so I can always feel when little pokey hairs start growing in where they don’t belong. I love tweezers 🙂

  10. Shalee says:

    I love getting my eyebrows waxed and my nails done. Unfortunately, my lack of funds keeps me from looking as if I care about outward appearance. So pluck it is and my nails often look as if they have seen better days. But I’m good with it.

    I say if you can afford it and it makes you feel good about yourself, go for it (as long as you realize that it’s the care that you give to yourself on the inside that really counts. Because no matter how pretty your nails and face are, if you ignore the health of your sweet spirit, you’ll never feel truly, fully, contentedly satisfied with yourself. Thus ends the psycho-babble from the chick in Kansas.)

  11. Jen says:

    I got my eyebrows “done” for the first time last month, and my first reaction afterward was panic. I’ve always had pretty thick brows and I thought they looked way too thin, too arched, and totally fake. I tried to tell the lady I liked it, but I was mentally wondering how much of it I could re-draw with eye pencil before anyone saw them.

    And then…no one noticed at all. Not my husband, not my good friends, not my mother. They all said, after I told them, that they had noticed I looked pretty but couldn’t put their finger on any one thing about me that was different. So now I love them and just wish I had the time and money to go get them done again. I’m trying to fight the good fight with my tweezers, but it just doesn’t look quite the same.

  12. angie says:

    I’ve only had my eyebrows “done” a couple of times, but I loved it and thought the discomfort was totally worth it. I know a girl who gets her eyebrows threaded every few weeks and they always look great. I keep saying I’m going to do it, but with a two year old and another due any day now, it’s not really at the top of my priority list. Then again, maybe I can convince my husband I need a spa day once a month and do everything at once! Hmmm…there’s an idea…

  13. Heffalump says:

    I don’t think I will EVER be brave enough to get my eyebrows done. My little sister got hers done, and I just didn’t like the way it looked…too thin, and it made her look weird to me.
    D’s sister also does something to her eyebrows…I seriously doubt she gets them professionally done though. Think Ronald McDonald eyebrows…she looks perpetually surprised all the time. I will stick with my own eyebrows, which I have always actually liked even if they are on the thick side.

  14. The Wiz says:

    I LOVE getting my eyebrows waxed. It makes a HUGE difference in my face, because I have intense brows. I go to Supercuts every six weeks and add an 8 bucks wax to my 15 dollar haircut, and call it good. Sometimes they don’t do that great a job, but usually, it works out great, and it’s still cheaper than a salon. I can’t pluck them. I’m bad at it, and they grow intensely fast, plus, it hurts.

    But I discovered a nail place here that also does them for 8 bucks, and she did a FABULOUS job. So I am pleased.
    Hmm…maybe I should go get them done right now. You’ve inspired me.

  15. Using tweezers on my eyebrows completely freaks me out. Fortunately, I have very blond eyebrows that just melt into my face. And bangs. Bangs help a lot.

  16. Lori says:

    You’re brave! I’d never let anyone do my eyebrows. Not that I really do them myself…Last weekend, I let my mom do some work on them while I was watching TV. Big mistake! She grabbed a chunk of my skin with them. I thought I was blind for life.

  17. Eyebrows are the picture frame of the face. I have nothing in the way of eyebrows. I wear bangs hoping no one will notice. I covet your eyebrows.

  18. Amanda says:

    Whooh, mama! I am so NOT the waxing/steaming/plucking type. I am as far from A is to Z. But, I gave it a go. The brow part went fine, but the part that killed me was the “eyelash tint.” My mom had pre-selected it for me, so that nothing would run or stain during my wedding. If you are able to nap with both eyes sealed shut by petroleum jelly and gauze, this one’s for you!

  19. Pokeyann says:

    Because I am a wooly mammoth, I “maintain” the eyebrows, or more to the point, I prevent them from overtaking my whole face. Anyhoo, thought you might like my little eyebrow story: I used to wax because it was faster or at least lasted longer. Until one day I waxed a whole eyebrow off, completely off. I had to then “do” the other one and draw them on for over a month. So now just tweezers if you please.

  20. Melissa says:

    I had a friend that worked in a salon and one day she said, “You know what would make your face look so open… if you’d let me wax your brows.” I refused because I’m totally into the whole Groucho Marx look and I hate pain. So, my face still looks closed, I guess.

  21. Danielle says:

    LOL. I hate plucking my eyebrows simply because my eyes inadvertently water and tears race down my face. I just can’t help it. And with the tears disabling my ability to actually SEE what and where I’m plucking well…you know… So, I cheat and use cosmetics scissors to try and masque the Jewish hairy caterpillars that are plastered (courtesy of my father) above my Irish blue eyes.

    I wish I had perfectly shaped eyebrows like my best friend does. Actually, I wish I had all her perfect physical features. Alas, us girls are never satisfied.

    Maybe I’ll treat myself to an eyebrow waxing. After all, I have to get my nails filled anyway.

  22. californiazenmom says:

    I do not pluck. I do not dye. I do not wax. I do not manicure. I just don’t want to commit to ONE MORE THING that has to be maintained every 2, 3, 5, 6, 29 weeks, whatever. I finally broke down and do pedicures once/month in the summer. My fingernails can get away with just being clipped and naked, as can my toes, but I can’t get all that icky skin off my heels by myself. Okay, TMI, now. I’ll sign off. 🙂

  23. eve's friend says:

    I love how you take a totally common experience and say everything we always “think” but never say. Your perfect storm write up is my life exactly–we have a lot in common. I really enjoy your blog and think you are hilarious. Wish I could hang with you & the human chill machine. I’m just a few thousand miles too far.

  24. grammyelin says:

    I will never forget the first time I had my eyebrows done. My roommates convinced me that I just could not go on living with the Groucho-look. When my Mother got her first look at them, she said an extremely naughty word and accused me of plucking out every ounce of family heritage I possessed. I believe my response was something like, “Well if family heritage means having one HUGE hairy eyebrow running accross my forehead and looking just like my brothers, you can keep it.”

  25. Stan says:

    We have some commonality in the waxing department. See my blog.

  26. Sue says:

    I got a bad eyebrow job a few months ago – too thin. I spent months growing them out, then went to a different place to get them shaped. Too thin again. I’m ticked. My eyebrows are just perpetually yuck. And they DO change the look of your face. Grrrrr…..

  27. KYouell says:

    I’m a plucker. I don’t like to call it tweezing because plucking is more like what it feels like: pulling chicken feathers. I used to check them daily, right before putting in my contacts, but now I have kids and I only put in my contacts maybe once a week. I’ve never bothered with waxing (although I have a friend who is not-so-hairy that swears by it) because I will still need to get out the tweezers and check my chinny-chin-chin. Oy, I hate those hag hairs more than the strays at my eyebrows!

  28. nosurfgirl says:


    does it count as not caring if the hairy, overgrown eyebrows are blond?

    I can’t help it. I have viking ancestry. They ought to excuse vikings from the eyebrow rule.

  29. Kates says:

    Eyebrow waxing is great!! I stupidly let someone convince me to do my ENTIRE face. Now it is something i have to have done monthly, makes me sad 🙁 stupid stupid. But, the eyebrows I love.

    I recently switched to “threading”. Try it. Much more precise and easier on your skin.

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