The return of the unibrow

With more than 90,000 posts to its name, the #unibrow movement on Instagram focuses on the women who choose to sport their natural brows.

These women are dismantling societal norms of femininity – an act of defiance in an industry built around Eurocentric beauty standards. By embracing their facial hair, they are choosing not to modify their natural features in order to appease their western peers.

Women such as the late artist Frida Kahlo and the Bollywood superstar Kajol have been unibrow icons for years but, in the social media age, their aesthetic has been widely disseminated and copied. There are multiple YouTube tutorials, Instagram photos and Glamour cover shoots, where unibrows are proudly sported by influencers and stars including the Greek-Cypriot model Sophia Hadjipanteli and the British-Bangladeshi makeup artist Mashia Anjum. By dropping their tweezers for a less groomed brow, they are nodding to a more inclusive idea of beauty.

Blurring heteronormative beauty ideals was common practice in Iran’s Qajar dynasty, which lasted from 1785 until 1925. Research by the Harvard professor Afsaneh Najmabadi has revealed that unibrows were so desirable that women etched them on using mascara. However, by the 19th century, Iranian beauty standards began to imitate those in Europe.

Shari Siadat Loeffler is a model based in New York who has been recognized by Vogue and Elle for her unibrow. “I’m never one that has really stuck to any societal norms,” she says.

Facialist and self-described “brow queen” Vaishaly Patel runs a skincare and eyebrow clinic in Marylebone, London. Her clients include Elle Macpherson and Nigella Lawson. She believes the trend for fuller, more natural eyebrows is here to stay: “Brows will always be on the fuller side, definitely not thin eyebrows – it will never go back to that.” (Source: The Guardian)

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