Fashion Masochist: Bleached Brows

In a city where tastefully plucked arches are the norm, Rachel Baker whites out.

Fashion Masochist Bleached Brows

Illustration by Zoe More O’Ferrall

As recently as last spring, the werewolf was rearing its head on runways and in fashion campaigns, with models sporting eyebrows bushier than my grandfather’s. A few local primping boutiques, like LuxLash, even endorsed the look by offering brow extensions. Now, though, the high-fashion script has flipped to no brows at all.

Supermodels from Adriana Lima to Jessica Stam have subjected themselves to blond dye jobs. On the latest cycle of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra forced the trend on multiple finalists. In some glossies, brows are being Photoshopped out altogether. And while most of my fellow Bostonians seem to be updating their winter look with new Thinsulate-lined pea coats, I can’t get my mind off joining the bleached-brow brigade. I’m thinking the change will be subtle yet high-fashion—the kind of visual detail that people won’t be able to put their finger on while still noticing that I look cutting-edge.

At her Southie makeup studio, Sarra, brow wiz Lauren Genatossio slathers a white dye mixture on my brows with a spatula. My instructions: the whiter, the better! Because my hair is blond, I’m sure that I’ll come out looking like a slightly more Nordic version of myself.

I’m wrong. Staring at my post-dye reflection, I can hardly find myself in the expanse of uninterrupted face. At first, I think I look naked. Then, maybe, young—though a bit too fetal-like for my comfort. To create some contrast, Genatossio gets out the eyeliner and starts vamping things up. “Brows are the eyes’ frames, so without those boundaries they look enormous,” she says.

The freaky kind of enormous, I decide. Back at the office, I pass a usually chirpy intern in the hallway. “Hey, lady!” I say. She stares at me blankly, then retreats to the intern den to ask the others who the new girl is. A well-groomed coworker is so horrified by my frameless gaze that she immediately dashes across the street to CVS to buy brow powder.

I need a strong drink—coffee will have to do. Walking up Shawmut Avenue to the South End Buttery, I encounter one of the neighborhood’s zillion dog walkers. As my eyes lock with a Chihuahua’s, I realize the little barking cat and I might as well be twins.

By morning, as I swing by Whole Foods for a 9 a.m. beet salad, I’d half forgotten about my blond brows. Then my regular server at the prepared-foods bar motions me closer. She reaches for my face. What is happening? Does she want to feel whether they’re bleached or shaved? But her hand aims lower. “I love your earrings!” she says.

The bleach has clearly gone to my head.