Recently I’ve been feeling a bit like the kid in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, entirely underwhelmed by the new fashion of brow definition. Did I miss the memo? When did it become attractive to have Dirty Sanchez style additions to our brows like hairy caterpillars chomping their way across our foreheads? In the immortal words of Zoolander’s Mugatu… “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!”
I realise fashion follows trends and with that comes classic, unwavering baseline basics; the white shirt, chunky winter knits and tartan in autumnal tones. These are interspersed with soaring peaks that define the decades; flares, Twiggy shift dresses and RaRa skirts ; and laughable lows that will hopefully never darken our wardrobes again; mullets, shoulder pads and, shudders, shell suits anyone?
With fashion now living at breakneck fibre optic speed, moderate changes of designs that would have given ol’ Coco years of wardrobe dominance, now last less than a season. Real “stand out and take a risk” seismic shift of fashions come about every 20 years or so. Long enough for a generation graduation of fashionistas, so no one remembers the pitfalls; wet bellbottoms on rainy days, the bearable chaffage of full sequin jumpsuits, the savage chaffage of full facial beard snogging.
The cycle of these Hayley’s Comet Coutures seems to be getting shorter, and with each re-invention of the wheel, the interpretation becomes more extreme, yet more acceptable and less provocative.
Mohicans and head shaves, once a punk statement of treasonous intention can now be seen in any data processing office. Shots of brightly coloured hair are no longer confined to the music industry and are common place on any hospital ward. Second-hand charity shop rummaging is no longer a dirty concept, instead being viewed as vintage eco-warriorism triumphed by the environmentally conscientious. In short, if a clothes trend doesn’t work for you, wait a couple of months and it will have had its day. Or choose to ignore fashion altogether and pick from a rich threaded history for a style that pleases you. Anything goes these days!
And I kinda like it! What was once extreme and outcast has now been welcomed into the bosom of mainstream society, no longer to be excluded and ridiculed. Self-expression has taken the place of fashion trends, and it’s no longer what you wear, it’s how you, and your Aunt Fanny, wear it.
However, conformity is a dark beast and has slunk away to adopt a different, more subversive realm, fed by edited filters and thumbs ups. Suddenly, our faces are the subject of beauty trends and hashtags. By this, I don’t mean shifting colour palates of eyes or lips; the interpretation of Neu-Goth or Californian Babe. Current “beauty” more often than not involves disguising the actual shape of our faces, lips and eyebrows. For them to be hidden from view by contouring and shading, with “non-surgical” manipulations, plumping, etching, threading, tattooing and microblading.
Where does it end?
Where did it start? I’m guessing in the doctored land of squares and snaps with their beauty porn for cupids bows, highlighted cheekbones, and trout pouts. The message is that your face is not acceptable the way it is and whatever you chose to put on it, it should be different. It should be heart shaped with bigger eyes and bigger lips.
And Flawless Fucking Eyebrows.
I’ll admit though, I’m not above this seduction. I’ve been woo-ed into purchasing the odd eyebrow maintenance product. I own countless tweezers; which I can never find in a rare spur-of-the-moment desire for facial topiary. I own a brown mascara and a brow gel and do, generally, feel better when I use them in my occasional flirtation with glamour. Performing a paint by numbers in shades of beige on my face to achieve the illusion of razor sharp cheekbones beyond the powers of blusher, is unlikely to feature in my beauty regime any time soon, but I will happily acknowledge that since the dawn of mankind, it has been pleasing to have hair shiney-ly flow in the same direction and tame those adventurous strands from wandering off path, channelling medieval crone like unkemptness. Though a thought has suddenly occurred to me- maybe all the accused dark age witches were simply original NaeGlamourettes?
I have even occasionally, despite myself, marvelled at the impossible alien symmetry of some folks faces and despaired at my own rustic features.
We can blame it on social media and the constant onslaught of beauty images, not just from ‘slebs’ but from your supposedly average Joe or Josephine Blogger. We can blame it on filters and SnapApp programmers, who may well have spent a fair amount of time during their formative years on tomb raider spawned animé console games, now defining what is considered beautiful. But I worry if we don’t noisily reject this supposed existence of perfection, the pressure will be unbearable for our kids and their future 24 hour WhatsApp buzzing lives. The teen desire to “fit in” or at least not stand out for the wrong reasons has always been difficult. The trouble is, so often in the wrong young hands, the desire to reach this supposed acceptable instapout of a vacant pre-blowjob playboy bunny can often result in car crash beauty. We’ve all cringed at the poor 14-year-old that looks like she’s fallen in a puddle of fake tan then rolled in a carpet of shimmer, thinking anything looks better than her lovely fresh face. I will never forget treating a young girl who, under harsh surgery lights, genuinely looked like the dead metallic bond girl in “Goldfinger”. If it had not been so sad I would have thought it was a joke. I fear for these impressionable girls and boys. I fear for my daughter and son. I despise these filters with eye enlargers, skin smoothers, golden crown and cutesy kitten whiskers. Where are the real faces? Some phones will auto filter your photos, even your beautiful children. Are we looking towards a future with Auto Filter Sunglasses? Will we wear them in bed? Are we heading towards “Filter Fucking”? I hope not.
So please, for the sake of mankind, my kids and my husband’s sanity, enough with the eyebrows.
Let’s go back to basics. Wash your face and by all means enhance your best bits with a touch of mascara and lippie, but stop short of drawing yourself a new ubiquitous bland face!
Maybe it will take a while before this beauty trend passes. Maybe it won’t. Or maybe, just maybe, all it takes to start the ball rolling is a disgruntled middle aged old school grunger to say:
“What a load of shite! The empress looks rediculous…”