Laura Jane Williams is an author, journalist and scriptwriter. She’s written two memoirs: Becoming, about her high school sweetheart marrying her best friend and how she healed, and Ice Cream for Breakfast, a guide to embracing your inner child. Her third book, Our Stop, is a rom-com novel about almost missing the love of your life, and has been called “a must-read” by Red Magazine. It’s available on pre-order now. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.
In the final episode of Fleabag, the priest gives a speech about love. In it, he says: “Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. It makes you selfish. It makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you never thought you would do.” For some, he was talking about Fleabag herself. For others, he meant God. For me? He was talking about eyebrows.
My eyebrows and I have the most tempestuous dynamic I’ve ever known. I watch other women and their eyebrows when I’m at the supermarket, when being asked for my order at dinner, when I’m on Instagram Stories. And I ask myself: why can’t my eyebrows look like theirs?
Oh, eyebrows! I remember being eight years old and my mother telling me that when I was older, all I’d need is to pluck three hairs from each side and I’d have the perfect arc. When I was thirteen, then, I totally disregarded that advice and plucked with wild and gay abandon, ending up with two thin and uneven lines that have never recovered. For a while it was almost fashionable. Now it is a great source of shame. Cara Delevigne’s style statement highlights everything I will never naturally be, and it hurts.
I am, categorically, not just the owner of eyebrows. I’m in a relationship with them.
I’ve been told eyebrows are sisters, not twins – but sometimes wonder if mine aren’t simply related by marriage – step-siblings perhaps, and angry ones at that.
I’ve tried it all: those kits with the templates that you use to put on powder (horribly ineffective), letting them grow out and then having them waxed (doesn’t account for the way hair grows oddly above my eyebrow), sleeping on my back because apparently pressing one side of my face into the pillow as I snooze on my belly could be responsible for mis-shaping the left side of my face.
I’ve had them micro-bladed (as close to perfect £300 will let you get, but temporary), I got a fringe so that they were covered, I own 32 eyebrow pencils. It’s a lot of thought and effort. So much so that I am, categorically, not just the owner of eyebrows. I’m in a relationship with them.
Lately, I’ve been using Benefit’s Precisely My Brow in shade 3.5, applied in upward sweeping motions and followed by the same upward motion of their Brow Gel. Even if I do not wear a single other scrap of make-up I do this. I cannot bear to go for a wee and look up as I wash my hands only to be confronted by the face of a potato. For as long as there are mirrors in my house I will commit to this task.
I suppose, at the end of the day, I’m thankful to have eyebrows at all. No matter how much the work, no matter the hours spent grooming and preening and drawing and shaping and glossing, no matter how much I continue to agree with Fleabag’s Priest that having them is, “… awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself,” at least they’re there. They’re something to work with. Because without them, I really do look like that potato.