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How eyebrows can reflect beauty standards through time (Op-Ed)

Few physical characteristics are as important as eyebrows when it comes to determining one’s attractiveness. Over the years, people’s tastes, cultural mores, and social mores have been reflected in these tiny arches that sit just over the eyes. The transformation of eyebrows from sparse to full provides an interesting account of shifting standards of beauty.

The art of shaping, grooming, and accessorizing eyebrows has evolved over the centuries to mirror the fashions of the time. During the early 1900s, when Old Hollywood was at its most glamorous, actresses like Clara Bow and Louise Brooks exemplified the style of thin, heavily arched brows. A sculpted, dramatic brow was a beauty icon currently.

Nonetheless, beauty standards evolved over the years. Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn, two iconic figures of the 1960s, represented a return to a more carefree and youthful style with their distinctively thin and extended brows. This break with the carefully arched brows of yesteryear hinted to a yearning for purity and naiveté.

In the 1980s, audacity was king. Power suits, thick hair, and similarly thick eyebrows were all things of the decade of excess. The image of a strong, confident woman with unruly brows became associated with Brooke Shields and other like figures. A social movement toward individual agency and expressiveness was reflected in this break from the fragile arches of bygone decades.

In the ’90s, supermodels like Kate Moss popularized a grunge-influenced style that was defined by thin, unruly eyebrows and a return to a more basic approach to beauty. This departure from conventional beauty standards—which promotes perfectionism as an asset—was communicated by a lack of interest in typical grooming practices.

With the help of social media and online influencers, eyebrows have risen to the forefront of modern beauty routines. Nowadays, there are so many ways to shape your brows to look your best. From big, Instagram-worthy brows to microblading, which is a semi-permanent alternative, there’s no shortage of choices.

More than just a matter of personal taste, the development of new eyebrow styles mirrors larger social mores and cultural mores. Fashion, art, politics, and technology are just a few of the many historical forces that shape ideals of beauty from one period to the next. The ebb and flow of eyebrow trends reflect the shifting standards of beauty and the ever-shifting demands imposed on women.

In addition to framing the eyes and expressing emotions nonverbally, eyebrows have the special ability to change one’s face. Whether they are carefully styled or worn naturally, eyebrows may influence how others see one’s attractiveness and sense of self, drawing attention to the complex connection between outward appearance and internal expression.

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