Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Because caterpillars turn into butterflies

Genghis-Khan---Mongul-war-007

Genghis Khan- conquered Asia and left his eyebrows behind.

My father very proudly says that we are direct descendent of Genghis Khan.  I believe him, and require no other proof than the eyebrows I inherited from my ferocious genealogy.  Regardless of whether I have Genghis Khan’s eyebrows, I definitely have my father’s eyebrows, and while they look perfect on a cuddly, hairy, white-bearded man, they’re a bit out of place on his daughter.

When I was 14, my mother sat me down- unprompted- and did perhaps what blonde ladies do tidy up their eyebrows- she shaved off the top half of them and told me to keep it up.  Being a non-blonde though, my Genghisesque eyebrows started growing back in right away, and I consider myself blessed to have very little photographic evidence of that awkward, stubbly phase.

Noor Jehan is a classic example of classic Pakistani eyebrows.

Noor Jehan is a classic example of classic “bow & arrow” eyebrows.

Later that same year, my sister and I went to spend the summer with our cousins in Pakistan, and being non-blonde descendants of Genghis Khan and his many savvy wives, they said: “What the heck have you done to your eyebrows!?” They staged a proper intervention, and a wise elder cousin immediately sat me down and threaded my eyebrows into the Pakistani equivalent of the bow that was meant to shoot the arrow of my glance straight into a young man’s heart.  That was my introduction to threading.

It was years before I learned that reshaping your eyebrows is not permissible in Islam, but by then, two things had already happened:

  1. I had forgotten what my real eyebrows actually looked like.
  2. I had grown to believe that my real eyebrows were hideous and that growing them out would cover the top half of my face.

It has taken me almost fifteen years to finally stop reshaping my eyebrows, and for the first time in my adult life, I now know what my real eyebrows look like, because I actually have them. I no longer have “eyebrows,” I have Mybrows.

It was hard at first to stop shaping them- they grew in seemingly random places and kept straying further and further from the invisible boundaries that I had assigned to them.  I would look at myself in the mirror and sigh- and during those months of transition, it was very difficult for me to stick with it.  My one source of encouragement- believe it or not- was my husband, and he had no idea what an emotional ordeal I was even undertaking.

He walked past me one day and casually said; “Hey, have you done something to your eyebrows?”

“What? Me?” I squeaked, my conscience guilty for wishing that it had, “I’m letting them grow in.”

“Oh,” he said approvingly.  “They look really nice.”

I was dumbstruck.  It was another few weeks before my husband noticed the next boundary grown over, and this time he said, “I like your eyebrows this way.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, “Don’t you remember what they looked like when we were married?”

“I do,” he said. “I thought they looked…fake.”

I glared at him, completely sure that he was somehow part of a conspiracy to pretend like my eyebrows didn’t actually look like caterpillars inching across my forehead.  So I went back and dug my wedding photos out of the important archive that is my sock drawer and guess what? My old, thin, highly manicured eyebrows struck me as looking… fake. And while I wasn’t yet in love with Mybrows, I was at least disillusioned with having their artificial looking alternative.

Sisters talk about eyebrows sometimes, and the conversation usually goes like this:

Helga: delicate. lady-like. pow.

Helga: delicate. lady-like. pow.

Sister 1: “Oh, my eyebrows are so unruly! I know we’re not supposed shape them but I feel like such a Neanderthal!”

Sister 2: “What are you talking about? Your eyebrows look fine! Now, MY eyebrows… they make Helga’s from Hey Arnold look delicate and lady-like.”

Sister 3: “You’re both crazy and your eyebrows frame your eyes perfectly! Now *my* eyebrows, they look like two handlebar moustaches without a sense of direction…”

The circular consensus seems to be everyone has a real problem with their eyebrows, but everyone ELSE looks fine and they’re just stressing for no reason.  In recent fashion, heavier (relatively) eyebrows have come back into the spotlight, I think this is a great time to piggy-back on the bandwagon and wave the flag for more natural looking eyebrows.

This tumblr account is, simply named- Thick eyebrows, and you can go here for an assortment of gorgeous ladies with luxuriously large eyebrows- models like Cara Delevinge, Brook Shields, even Audrey Hepburn- looking lovely with eyebrows significantly thicker than the media has previously shown us.

While Muslims, of course, don’t wait for fashion to agree with religion before deciding to become religious, it is nice when the media can do a part- even a teeny tiny one- to help boost our natural-looking self esteem when it comes to eyebrows.  Yes, the women are all still uncovered, photo-shopped, artfully painted and arranged by professionals- but the point is, they have big eyebrows and they are daring you to make caterpillar jokes about them.

*filed teeth, anyone?

I haven’t come as far as to say I’m in love with Mybrows, but who am I to even suggest that Allah made a mistake in how He made them?  Allah Himself designed what my face and eyebrows were going to look like, and it should go without saying that His designs for what humans should look like are Divine (with a capital D) and everything else that we do is just “fixing” what isn’t really broken.*

Please note- this doesn’t mean I’m saying that things like cleft palates are Divinely created and who are we therefore to alter them. No.  Defects in the original human design are permissible to correct, and that’s like replacing a lost eye or reconstructing a face after an accident or congenital birth defect.  There’s a difference between correcting a defect to meet the standard and redesigning the standard altogether.

Deciding that all of femalekind has been designed with the “wrong” kind of eyebrows is something else entirely.  But, seeing as how society in general still has a problem accepting women themselves in different shapes and sizes, maybe starting with a tiny part of women- like their eyebrows- is a tiny first step?

In any case, I’m not waiting for society to accept my eyebrows before I do, so here I go.  Alhamdulillah, my eyebrows are perfectly designed for whatever it is that Allah has destined for my face.  Whether my naturally drop-dead gorgeous arches are meant to be a life-long battle with ego whose victory could yield me Jannah, or whether my hirsute forehead is an exercise in accepting the Qadr of Allah that can be rewarded with a place among the Sabiroon in Jannah- either way it’s fine for me.

And since, in the back of your mind, you’ve been wondering what Mybrows actually look like, and you’re looking forward to having that circular conversation where you tell me that my eyebrows are fine and YOU’RE the one who should be in mourning, here you go.

Mybrows

  I’d love to see your natural brows (so I can tell you they look fine), so if you feel like sharing them, I’ll post them here too.  Let the conversation begin.

 

This sister sent in a picture of “Furries” from the UK.  Sister, your eyebrows are lovely. 🙂

furry friends

And here are eyebrows from Dubai, from a sister who wished she had MORE visible eyebrow shape, which just goes to show that the grass is always greener on the other side :p

Mybrows2

15 Thoughts on “Because caterpillars turn into butterflies

  1. enjay on April 23, 2013 at 7:45 PM said:

    Oh the eyebrows in the pictures are just fine. Dont really understand why people have issues, I suppose its like body image issues. Eyebrow image issues anyone? In most cases, things are perfectly fine, we just like to create issues out of non issues. That is what I think!

  2. enjay on April 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM said:

    About time you changed the eyebrows in your cover picture to yourbrows!

  3. Baji: Lol! Excellent addendum- I don’t know if Frieda Kahlo was advocating big eyebrows on purpose or whether she was too busy being Frida Kahlo to care about them, but she had some serious eyebrows going on!

    Enjay: You know, I was thinking that too, lol- and Musfira is overdue for an upgrade too!

  4. awesome post! Just 15 minutes before I opened my blog reader, I was sighing at my reflection in the mirror. My mom and I are among the very few women I know who don`t shape eyebrows. Both of my sisters started in their mid twenties… I was just thinking maybe I should research that hadith forbidding the shaping of the eyebrows, because people certainly do judge you by it. YOu`re giving me strength to continue on 🙂

  5. Thank you for writing this post. I have never “cleaned up” or shaped my eyebrows but only because of my wonderful mother {may Allah always be pleased with her} who would gently remind us that it is not permissible. She never did it so neither did my sister and I. We were probably the only three women in our community who didn’t thread/wax our eyebrows. But I’ve always been sensitive to this topic because I’ve always seen myself as having bushman eyebrows. It’s easy to feel self conscious and dare I say “backwards” when I’m around those who are ever so polished and refined.

    Anyway, thank you for having the courage to “revert” back to your natural brows {which are lovely, by the way!} and being so public about it. You are inspiring me to continue on in my bushman ways! 🙂

    May Allah make it easy for all of us to do what pleases Him the most.

  6. Sara, HijabiMommy- I’m so glad you could relate- would you like to inspire other people with an eyebrow pic perhaps? *wiggles eyebrows* 🙂

  7. Oh this is such a sensitive topic for me! From the day i got married i started taking a scarf and gradually as Allah Subhana o Taala guided the eyebrows grew too, and as they grew and the make-up stopped, the jewelry went in hiding so did the repute for the new daughter-in-law shrank, it went down so low that it was considered to be a shame to even take her to family gatherings…. yes you are right we will be tested in various ways and all that we can think is it is what has been decreed by our Lord and we will reap the benefits where they really matter… But the funny part is my Husband doesnt even notice what my eyebrows look like! 😀 ahhhh such a blessing!

  8. Salaams: Great post! I’ve always had thick brows. What email addy do we send the pics to?

  9. Zhkhan at gmail dot com 🙂

  10. Muslimah on May 5, 2013 at 2:27 PM said:

    Asalaam aleykum.

    Just now I was thinking on plucking just a little bit and so went shopping on google for a fatwa that would give me the go ahead.Even checked whether the hadith could be considered weak yet its in Bukhari and Muslim.
    I used to tweez then I heard the hadith and quit.Then I tweezed again.Then I stopped again lol but its not that funny I guess.So here I was googling and Mashallah I stumble across your blog.

    May Allah reward u abudantly ukhti.

    Ps.
    Yeah ur eyebrows are gorgeous and am not just sayin to stroke your ego 🙂

    To all the lovely ladies who commented,to you,to any lady who reads this may Allah guide us,keep us steadfast on the deen and reward us with jannah.

  11. Walaikum Assalam Muslimah! A big ameen to your dua! Believe it or not, I was getting online to “shop” for some leniency too when I finally decided to just accept my eyebrows and blog about it and get it over and done with- subhanAllah! I’m guessing you and I can’t be the only ones. 🙂

    And now that you’ve decided my eyebrows are gorgeous, can I see yours? 😀

  12. Halwah on June 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM said:

    Assalammualaikum sister!

    And I thought I was the only Muslimah going through this struggle. I’m part Indian, and Pakistani.. and omg do I have the Khan eyebrows too.. I used to take issue and be extremely paranoid when people talk about my brows, because they seem to be thickest and the bushiest in the room. I have threaded and plucked and tried to not touch them sometimes. But after my mother and friends made noise about how unruly my face looks.. and why I always look “angry” or when they ask “What’s up with those angry bird brows?” I get all self conscious and I just don’t want the attention on me. So I pluck them.

    I have not touched my brows for 2 months alhamdulillah. However I have been considering permanent removal so I never have to remove them ever again. But I must be brave to embrace my true self, mybrows, as you call yours, charmingly. Allah be with me!

    And also.. I notice my brother shaping his brows too!!! It’s a trend, but it looks awful on men. I prefer them naturally. So I wonder if this is the same kind of perspective men have when they look at us women with fake eyebrows.

  13. Walaikum Assalam Halwah, may Allah give you the courage and perseverance to keep up with accepting your mybrows. 🙂

    I have to agree with you about men shaping brows… I hate to say it but, it always looks very… tranny to me. :s

  14. Sumaiyah on October 30, 2013 at 4:09 AM said:

    I am actually the opposite….I have pretty neat eyebrows alhamdulillah…but face the problem with people always asking me if I pluck them because of the arch…its annoying because they don’t believe me when I say I don’t! So they think of me as both a liar and eyebrow plucker lol…I just cover them up now, I wear nikab anyway so it’s cool haha

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: