Dear the two strips of hair I have obsessed over more than any other: my eyebrows,
You started out so promising. Being of European heritage I was ‘blessed’ with ample body hair, and you were no exception.
Looking back on childhood photos I see jet black, bushy brows with a hint of a monobrow. It’s a miracle none of my classmates teased me about you.
You started to bug me when I was about 10 — young, I know. But in my defence, it was the late ’90s. The girls in my tween magazines had thin, perfectly groomed blonde brows, not big, hairy caterpillars like you guys were. No offence.
Claire and her (excellent) brows today.
I began to notice that, once a week or so, my mother sat in the living room with her hand mirror and plucked her eyebrows. I begged her to let me do the same to you and she hesitantly agreed, warning me to "not go crazy" with the tweezers.
Looking back now, I see that I should have listened to her. You really didn't need much grooming. If I'd only gotten rid of the hairs that grew rebelliously in the middle of you guys and maybe a few strays, I could have grown up to rival Cara Delevigne! Well, in the eyebrow department at least.
Alas, I did not listen to my mother.
Plucking is addictive. If I ever have a daughter, I will tell her to just say "no" to plucking, as if it is an illicit drug. If she shows an interest in eyebrow grooming, it will be professional waxes or nothing for her.
"If I'd started out slowly, I might have looked like Cara Delevingne by now. Alas." (Image: Getty)
By the start of secondary school you were way too thin, thanks to months of going crazy with the tweezers.
I now know you guys are most aesthetically pleasing when you line up with the corners of my eyes, but thanks to my overly enthusiastic plucking, you were a few millimetres off on either end.
A few years out of secondary school, I began to notice that the girls in magazines didn't have round, thin eyebrows anymore. Thick brows with fierce arches were all the rage and, once again, I decided you were inadequate.
I made a new friend who had perfect brows. I lusted over them like a woman obsessed. I dragged her with me to a fancy beautician in a fancy, beachside suburb who specialised in eyebrows.
"Would it be possible to make my eyebrows look more like hers?" I asked hopefully. (Post continues after gallery.)
"Yes," replied the statuesque beautician without batting an eyelid.
For the first time I'd admitted I couldn't look after you on my own, and handed you over to the care of an expert. I swore I'd never touch a set of tweezers again.
After a consultation, tint and wax, you were looking more even and better than ever before. Monthly visits to the salon became a non-negotiable part of my routine. For two whole years you went from strength to strength.
Then, the unthinkable happened: my beautician moved without warning. How could she do this to us?
Terrified to try a new beautician, I decided to go straight to a salon that only does eyebrow tinting and waxing. Surely all the staff there would know what they are doing, right?
It was a gradual process, so it took me a while to notice, but with each appointment you were getting thinner. Isn't it funny how you are the one body part society doesn't want to be thin these days? But I digress. Your arches were becoming less defined and, worst of all, the slight difference in your height was becoming more obvious, making you look really asymmetrical.
In the words of Justin Bieber, is it too late now to say sorry?
Last September after yet another disappointing treatment, I walked out of that eyebrow salon and decided I was never going back. Instead, I was going to just let you be for the first time in 17 years in the hope that your sparse patches would begin to fill out.
This process endedup being much harder than I bargained for. Your hairs grew back slowly and sporadically. I’m certain you were punishing me.
During this work-in-progress phase, I used a series of brow powders, gels and pencil to disguise your patchiness. Sometimes I REALLY overdid it with the products. I look back on photos of those days and cringe.
I applied castor oil to you nightly, praying the mythical greasy substance would kick-start all your follicles. It helped a little. I think.
One night, I stared in the mirror and realised you and I had come full circle. I was desperate for you to go back to your original, bushy form. I should have just left you alone and accepted you for what you were.
This was a lightbulb moment for me. After years of wanting to change you, I realised the eyebrows I was born with actually suited me best.
How many other physical features I had wasted time obsessing over?
Watch: The body parts we're learning to love. (Post continues after video.)
In 10 years time, will I regret all the time I spent sweating for a thigh gap that I will probably never get, contouring my face, and hiding my not-quite-toned enough arms?
"Probably!" screams a voice in my head.
My patience has paid off and you are looking better, and more even, than ever. I occasionally treat you to a tint and wax by a very careful beautician, but mostly I am just letting you be yourselves.
In conclusion, dear eyebrows, I want to say thank you. Thank you for encouraging me to recognise the features that make me, well, me and for pushing me to try to love myself a little more.
I never thought I could learn so much about myself from two little strips of hair.