Battle of the eyebrow
By Niki Tehranchi
July 9, 2001
I was born outside of Iran, before the revolution. In the hospital, people
were not as used as they are now to "ethnic" looking babies next
to their properly bald Western babies. My dad and mom had no difficulty
picking me out at the nursery for I was the only one there with a massive
unibrow. A candidate for those old Charles Dickens tales of baby switching
I was definitely not.
Fortunately, as I grew older, I started to grow a little more into my
eyebrows. (i.e. the ratio of eyebrow to body length became a little more
proportionate) but finally, as I lost the innocence of childhood, I increasingly
got the feeling that something was not quite right about my face, a certain
je ne sais quoi that made me different than the rest of my female classmates.
I went home one day determined to resolve the problem once and for all.
I went to the bathroom, closed the door, and before the mirror, I started
studying my face. I tried to maintain direct eye contact and not to blink
so I wouldn't lose my concentration. Suddenly, I had a sixth sense that
the problem resided in the upper part of my face. I gently placed one hand
on the top of my head, and slowly extended my index finger downwards, poking
around the area in the hopes of eventually hitting the jackpot. When the
finger finally rested on the exact point where my forehead ended and my
nose began, I noticed a strange change in my face. Uncontrollably, my jaw
muscles had begun to move, forcing my lips into a pretty smile.
Alarmed at this turn of events, I removed my finger from its position
and watched in horror as the same mechanism turned my smile into a frown.
I repeated this experiment several times before, like Homer Simpson, a light
bulb finally was switched on. "DOH!" I exclaimed. I had literally
put the finger on my problem: I had... a unibrow!
This was an immense relief as I thought the problem could be resolved
very simply (Ah! I guess I had not lost my childhood innocence entirely!).
I made sure the bathroom door was locked and I opened the cabinet, removing
a pair of golden tweezers from my mom's "beauty" bag. With tremendous
excitement and also a lot of fear, I chose the longest blackest hair right
at the middle and, after holding my breath, I gave it a big pull. The sting
was only momentary, and the result was already a 150% improvement.
So one by one, I plucked away at all the hair in the middle of my brow
until I was quite satisfied. When I was finished a huge grin rested on my
face. This grin quickly evaporated as soon as I opened the bathroom door
and came face to face with my mother, who had been standing behind it for
quite some time wondering what I could possibly be doing in the bathroom
for so long and ready to call 911 if she stopped hearing the sounds of my
One look at me and she screamed out, half-way laughing and half-way in
terror: "Khodaa margam bedeh! Ey vaay! Akheh ki ejazeh dadeh abrroohaatto
becheenee? baabaat biyaad khooneh mikoshatet!"
With the cool reserved only to teenagers I replied nonchalantly: "Mageh
unibrow-eh hamsaaye boodeh ke baayad ejaazeh meegereftam?" Boy did
I get a screaming later on when daddy came home. But eventually they said
nothing and the single entity was forever split in two.
Over the years, I found out that things were not as simple as they seemed.
My initial experiment with my eyebrows became a daily task, the bane of
my existence. Like Sysiphus pushing his rock up the mountain only to have
it tumbling down the hill again, the battle against my constantly reemerging
unibrow gave way to such disastrous experiments as the "hook look"
(two straight lines that curve downwards towards the nose), the "Oh
really? look" (two straight lines with the edges curved upwards at
the nose giving you a perpetually surprised look), the "GRRRRRR"
look (two diagonal lines pointing down at your nose giving you a perpetually
angry look). It was a horrible daily battle made only worse by knowing there
would be newer tougher soldiers the next day to pluck from the earth of
Well at least, I didn't have to go through what my poor mom went through.
For some reason, she had been blessed with a perfectly beautiful, thick
(but not too thick: a la Ali McGraw in "Love Story") pair of eyebrows
(no unibrow!) but on the day of her wedding, the lady at the beauty salon
decided "In ke mode nist! Azizam, bezaar man to ro messle aroosak dorosst
konam." Her idea of aroosak was to completely pluck out ALL of my mom's
eyebrows and draw in a pencil thin arc "a la Greta Garbo I vant to
be ahlone" look.
My poor mommy had no idea what had happened. She washed her face in the
sink and looked up, she saw that she was completely brow-bald and she had
no idea how to draw them in again! She never regained her beautiful eyebrows
as for some reason they never grew back! (Wish I had THAT problem)
Many years later, she had her eyebrows tattooed (yes you heard it! My
mom got a tattoo before I did!) in Iran. Let me tell you, I almost crashed
the car when I came to pick her up at the airport. She had been Iranified:
Bleach blond hair with even blonder highlights, and a pair of oddly rectangle
shaped dark eyebrows made the scariest of contrast under the yellow airport
The worst thing happened a year ago. After years of hell, I finally I
found the pearl, the deity who would get rid of the bane of my existence,
the one we referred affectionately as the Eyebrow-Lady (for invoking the
Lord's name in vain would be a sin). She wielded a magical combination of
tweezers, razors, cisers, and wax as skillfully as Leonardo da Vinci except
you came out looking much better than Mona Lisa. Isn't fate cruel? Only
a few weeks after I had found her, I had to pack my bags and move to the
other end of the earth. I have now retuned to climbing my hill, pushing
my rock, until I find my once again my salvation.
Next Episode: Nobody talks about it but Everybody has one..you know what
I mean... the unpronounceable... the unthinkable... it's a shadow... it's
a wrinkle... No! it's the hair on your upper lip!