Sometimes when you check back in after a break, things have moved, often at a swifter pace than you thought possible. Like when you don’t own a tv, and then you catch some and think ‘was tv always this loud, crass and fatuous?’
Today it was eyebrows. I’ve always had a casual approach to eyebrow maintenance, and haven’t put them in for a service in quite a while. Feeling a tad unkempt about the brows, I had a look online to find a neighbouring brow shop. There are plenty, and since I last looked, they’ve experienced what can only be described as profession creep.
With a few clicks of the mouse, I stumbled unawares into a world of brow shapers, sugarers, designers, stylists and – I kid you not – brow whisperers. At a brow bar that looks more like a Byzantine kasbah, your ‘Arch Angel’ will perform a ‘face reading’ to gain an understanding of your personality and idiosyncracies. (I wonder, does one’s face have to be straight for this to work?) ‘Using the brow whispering technique they can then determine a perfect brow shape to suit each individual.’ Once you’ve had your brows whispered, you move on to your consultation with a brow artist, who’ll (eventually) give you a ‘wax, tweeze and alignment’ for just $70. If you prefer something more radically intrusive, you can pay considerably more for a browlift, which surgically removes excess fat and skin in your brow area, and tightens the muscles to give you the perfect arch of the permanently surprised.
It’s not really the money that troubles me, nor the possibility that if I were so inclined I could have my face surgically rearranged. Tempora mutantur, after all. It’s the spin: the psuedo-spiritual quasi-psychological lily-gilding that blurs a service industry with the helping professions and the arts. Such spinning elevates beyond reason both the nature of the transaction and – it must be said – the participants. Removing hair with hot wax is not an art; the person who does it, however well, is not an artist. This wouldn’t bother me so much if I, as the buyer of these services, was not drawn into the pretence. Because that’s the worst part. Going along with the elaborate charade that my eyebrows somehow deserve this much attention, this much gilt. That I care about them this much.
Maybe I should ask my brow artist to give me the ‘dead pan.’ I think I’m going to need it.