Culture

Student Op-Ed: Some Eyebrows Are Cultural Appropriation

Kendall Jenner gets a touch up at New York Fashion Week in 2015. (Reuters photo: Eric Thayer)
No.

According to a piece written by a student at Louisiana State University, white women styling their eyebrows to make them look fuller is an example of cultural appropriation.

“Current American eyebrow culture also shows a prime example of the cultural appropriation in the country,” Lynne Bunch writes in a piece for the Daily Reveille, the school’s official student newspaper. “The trend right now is thick brows, and although a lot of ethnic women have always had bushy, harder-to-maintain eyebrows, it has only become trendy now that white women have started to do it.”

(Yes — she really said “eyebrow culture.”)

Now, first of all, I have certainly seen white women who have naturally thick eyebrows without the use of any kind of makeup. Second of all, they’re eyebrows. If you want to paint your eyebrows to look thicker, fine! If you want to bleach them or dye them pink or shave one or both of them off, fine! Who cares?

Well, apparently Bunch does, and it’s not just thick brows that she has a problem with. In the piece, she also complains about women who bleach their brows or go for what she calls the “no eyebrow look,” because it’s offensive to women who have light or no brows “because of sickness, disorders or their natural eyebrow hair color [appearing] nearly invisible.”

Bunch offers model and Kardashian-clan member Kendall Jenner as an example of someone who has been guilty of numerous eyebrow-related microaggressions — including sporting the no-brow look “on the runway,” despite being “uneducated on what it’s like to live without eyebrows on a long term basis,” and making a comment that she once “plucked out all of [her] eyebrows” “on a totally weird whim,” which Bunch considers insensitive to people who suffer from trichotillomania and compulsively pull out their own hair.  

“Eyebrow culture is too intense and too unforgiving, and a person’s beauty should be defined by the individual, not by what society considers trendy,” Bunch concludes.

This conclusion is, of course, laughably ironic. After all, if, as Bunch says, “a person’s beauty should be defined by the individual,” shouldn’t people be allowed to decide what to do with their own damn eyebrows, without having to worry about a citation from the PC police?

I’m not unsympathetic to the fact that there are people out there struggling with various eyebrow-related difficulties, however, I still can’t help but feel like this piece falls into the category of “I  Am Looking for Something to Complain About to Prove That I Am More Culturally Aware Than You Are.” Throughout her piece, Bunch repeatedly complains about society focusing too much on what women’s eyebrows look like — and perhaps (just perhaps!) she might want to consider that she herself should stop doing exactly that.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online

Editor’s Note: This piece originally mistakenly identified the author of the Daily Reveille article as Betsy Primes. In fact, the author is Lynne Bunch. Betsy Primes is credited with the accompanying artwork.

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