I don’t like my eyebrows (and other insecurities)

I took a selfie today, and the first thing I noticed was my eyebrows. And not in any way that involves the words “on fleek.”

the culprit
no fleeking (whatever that even means)

Oh, eyebrows. Nearly my whole life, I’ve tried to get them to be a different shape through sheer force of will. Maybe if I just plucked here, waxed there, tried threading, I would be happy with their shape.

It took me until my mid-thirties (My mid-thirties!) to feel some sort of contentment about these erstwhile fuzzy caterpillars on my face. Contentment isn’t quite the word. Maybe détentes.

Rest assured, this eyebrow obsession is not on the level of existential crisis. It’s more like a quiet, persistent nagging. Generally, I feel very good about myself.

Yet, growing up in this land obsessed with appearance, where my ob-gyn’s office has pamphlets and advertisements for Botox liberally spread around (for what it’s worth, my ob-gyn shares her office with another doctor, and I do believe all the Botox stuff is on account of him, not her), I have insecurities.

Who doesn’t have insecurities? If it’s not my legs (too thick), it’s my hands (stubby), or my stomach (hello I have four kids why would I ever even consider my stomach?!), it’ll be something else. Because there’s always something to improve. The messages are everywhere.

I want to go back in time and tell my 16-year-old self: “Self! No amount of plucking is going to change their inherent shape! Accept it! It doesn’t matter anyways!!”

What a crazy society we live in, where thoughts about my eyebrows would even occupy a fraction of a second in my mind. Shouldn’t my thoughts be more centered on things like how to feed my children vegetables, or where all the unmatched socks have gone? Or on my art, my music, my writing? Or, even better, on the spiritual realm, working toward transcending this mortal coil and achieving some level of dveykus with the Divine?

But no. I’m looking at this selfie and thinking about how I still don’t like my eyebrows. How they’re still kind of fuzzy and asymmetrical and don’t have that lovely arch shape I’ve long regarded with some amount of envy.

And who cares? No one. It doesn’t matter. It actually does not matter. So why am I telling you all this? Partly because we’re moving in a week and my mind is so abuzz with moving plans and Pesach plans that all I can do is think about that selfie. And my eyebrows. And I have a suspicion that I’m not alone in this occasional dissatisfaction with my appearance.

How crazy it is that even though I know it doesn’t matter, that we are all so much more than our appearances, that I have met so many extraordinary women who would never grace the cover of a magazine but who are some of the most genuinely beautiful people I have ever known – despite all that, I still struggle with liking what I see in the mirror (or the phone camera)?

kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj (that was my daughter’s contribution to this post) malegaze Because even though we may know it doesn’t matter, it does affect us. How we feel about our appearance does make an impact on our mood, our days, our self-esteem. Maybe it’s silly, but it’s real.

How about this: instead of fretting over our collective imperfections, we all find an opportunity today (and tomorrow and the next day) to compliment someone. Tell someone how lovely they look. How beautiful they are. How that shirt brings out their eyes. How their smile lights up the room. True, the messages of what we “should” look like are everywhere, and they are wholly bogus.

Let’s replace those messages with a better, healthier and more productive one: You are beautiful.

26 thoughts on “I don’t like my eyebrows (and other insecurities)

      1. I used to hate my eyebrows, when I was younger. Seriously, a redhead with thick, black, fuzzy eyebrows? Over the years my hair has become darker and the eyebrows do not look so funny any more.

        But, Rivki, in my opinion your eyebrows (and your eyes) are beautiful!

  1. I needed this today. Since I hurt my knee, I have been unable to exercise the way I like to – and my weight has gone up and up and up. I’m feeling pretty upset about it as I’ve never weighed this much. I’d like to say I could be at peace with myself about this weigh gain, but it does bum me out. I’ve been beating myself up about it – but, hopefully, the people around me love me for me and not the little bulge around my middle.

    Happy to join the support group.

    1. Weight gain is the worst for destroying how I feel about myself (and most women feel this way, too, I think). Happy to have you in the support group, absolutely.

  2. Amen, sistah girl!

    Also, I regularly get my eyebrows decaterpillared. Does *anyone* have desirable brows?

    Also, that photo of you is stunning!

    1. I think some people are born with beautiful brow shape, but there’s probably something else about their body they can’t stand. Ha! And thanks re: the photo. :)

  3. I appreciate this post. I have been struggling with my self-esteem of late. And still dealing with baby weight 8 months after the birth doesn’t help. Thanks for being real and “hugging” each of us with your kindness.

    1. Baby weight is such a crazy thing, coming out of such a positive moment (growing & having a baby), yet making so many of us feel horrible about ourselves. I’m happy to give you a hug whenever you need! Anytime, seriously, email me, call me, send a carrier pigeon. I’m here.

  4. Let me just say, I love eyebrows like yours. They’re, I don’t know, soulful! Maybe it’s that I used to have a really dear friend who had eyebrows like that, so that’s my association. But I hear you. Excellent point. There are things about my appearance that nag at me, too, so I appreciate this post. And yes, that’s a stunning photo of you!

  5. What more can I say! I think the wish to look good is okay and natural (so don’t additionally beat yourself up for worrying about looks at all), but it’s important to see individual beauty and not to worry about people on magazine covers. (Even they don’t look like on the cover, the pictures are made over a million times.) – This is a concept I’ve internalized 100%, so I’m totally relaxed about my own looks. Of course. Oh yes.

    (For example I’ve held many a passionate speech about the nonsense of women shaving their legs – all suppressed by the stupid world around them who expects women to have Barbie doll bodies, instead of hair that’s completely natural and normal!!! However, since the hair on my legs for strange reasons changed its colour from blonde (=invisible) to black (BLACK!!), those speeches have somehow… become less frequent. Much, much less frequent. Same with Botox and the wrinkles on MY forehead.)

    And: yes, you’re beautiful! The wrap on the picture perfectly brings out your eyes. Do they have a coulour that changes, depending on the coulours around them?

    1. Love this comment, Marla! Isn’t it amazing how there can be a disconnect between our intellectual understanding f things, like how we all know that magazines are photoshopped to a ridiculous degree, and yet, here we are.

      My eyes do change color depending on what I’m wearing, or even how I’m feeling. I’ve been told that when I’m very happy (or very sad), my eyes become much more green. I think the official color is hazel. Such a perceptive question!

  6. Ugh, yes, this: “Because even though we may know it doesn’t matter, it does affect us. How we feel about our appearance does make an impact on our mood, our days, our self-esteem. Maybe it’s silly, but it’s real.”

    I love your solution to give compliments and spread kindness.

    1. It’s so baffling to me how we are influenced through all the advertising and environmental/society value placed on certain types of beauty, and yet we are repeatedly told through words that beauty is only skin deep, in the eye of the beholder, etc. etc. It creates such cognitive dissonance!

  7. Ha. Your eyebrows look fine to me. Anything above those gorgeous green eyes of yours will look good! That was my compliment for the day.

  8. Eyebrows! HAH! Don’t stress about them. There was an actress, Mariel Hemingway, who had dark bushy brows, so I took comfort from her. When I was in my 20s my brows were thick and I brushed them upward. One good thing about being a neo-hippie was that I didn’t care about plucking or shaping.

    Now in mid-50s, nobody told me that they get thin on their own!!! Sparse patches? Also leg hair goes away. All the things we stressed about when younger and more subject to Madison Avenue values go away… or we just don’t care about them.

    You’re gorgeous, you have a gorgeous family and you’re moving to a clean new place before Pesach. Enjoy. Laugh with your children. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Older & Wiser Me

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