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.”
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) 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.