When my daughter was born there was no doubt that she was mine. Our baby pictures could easily be switched and no one would be the wiser. But as she changed from baby into toddler one difference, one small hairy difference emerged: her teeny tiny baby unibrow. I knew I shouldn’t care. She was healthy, she was beautiful, she was smart and fun, but I stared at the collection of hairs above her nose that grew more abundant each passing day my fixation grew.
Something had to be done. I bought one of those tiny electric bikini trimmers from the drugstore for $5.99. It had pink and yellow flowers on it, decorated like a fun new toy. I sat her on top of the toilet. She wobbled, then remained still. “This won’t hurt,” I assured her. She smiled back at me, revealing the four perfect pearly teeth recently sprouted from inside her tiny gummy mouth. I turned the razor on and it buzzed in my hand. I tried it on the blondish down of my arm assuring that it worked and didn’t hurt as I had promised. It followed through on both accounts. “Hold still,” I said, and she listened.
In an instant it was gone, two perfect dark brown crescents emerged where one fuzzy line had stood. I was tempted to strip the hairs that grew from the edges of her eyebrows toward her tiny temples but restrained myself. She continued to smile, none the wiser, and hoped off the toilet seat to resume a game of steal the dog’s toy. I smiled back at her, admiring my perfect little girl.
We continued this routine. Taking the five seconds to remove any regrowth every week through learning to walk, through nursery school, through potty training, through every first in those crazy fleeting amazing first years of life. It was finally time for kindergarten. My daughter packed the backpack she had carefully selected weeks before. She dressed herself in the outfit chosen specifically for that day. I brushed her hair, and watched as she placed her hairband neatly on her head, admiring how beautiful she was, how much she had grown, and how she was about to take an important first step into achieving all that she wanted to be in this world.
“Mama, you forgot to do my eyebrows,” she said.
They had grown back a little. Stubby dark hairs poked out against her fair skin. But as I stood looking at her, preparing her for her entry into her education, into a new world of thinking and ideas, what would be the idea that I would send her out with? The idea that somehow, she wasn’t perfect just the way she was?
The idea that she needed to change, remove a part of herself, in order to fit in to someone else’s standard of who she is supposed to be?
The idea that her Mama, the one how was supposed to love and accept her unconditionally, insisted on keeping up with some societal standard of beauty, propagating it on a child who hadn’t even learned how to spell her own last name, whose own identity was just beginning to emerge. The message I would send is you are not good enough.
I looked at my daughter. At her face so much like mine. At her mismatched socks and her clashing headband, and the pride and excitement she felt at that moment.
“Don’t worry about it baby, you look great.”
I haven’t done her eyebrows again. The unibrow situation still exists. And there are moments, when her face is so close to mine, that I find my eyes travelling to the hairs between her eyes, instead of looking into her deep brown eyes themselves. I have been tempted to find the trimmer from where it lies in the back of the bathroom cabinet, but I know that it’s my shit to get over, and I have no business putting that on her.
The unibrow situation may come up again. She may decide that she would like to remove it at some point. That will be her choice, and there will be a discussion before any action. But all I can do now is love her, just as she is, and hopefully teach her to do the same.
D.J. Kramer is a New York transplant currently residing in New Hampshire and pursuing a career as a writer of novels, short stories, and poetry while raising her two children, three dogs, and trying to convince her husband to move the family somewhere warmer. Follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/djkramerwrites