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It’s an eyebrow raising dilemma

In the fashion world of Kenya wearing thin arches is frowned upon.  However, singer Rihanna reignited debate on the taboo style when she posed in this month’s British Vogue  with the eye-pencil look. Will we see the return of the weird brows?

Eyebrows in Kenya have evolved into a fashion trend that forces women to spend a lot of money to get the  right look.

This trend is most likely determined by the West. In the 1920s, thin and rounded arches were the dominating trend. Fast forward to today, full and natural arches are the in thing.

Singer Rihanna shocked the fashion world recently when  she appeared on the British Vogue September issue rocking the thin arches that were famous in the 1920s, but have today become a fashion taboo. Vogue’s September issues are important to the fashion world because they are the largest and most lavish of the year and a real statement about what the coming months will bring.

For this reason the cover caused a stir online as Rihanna was pictured wearing micro eyebrows, which are  considered outdated. Women took  to social media to disagree with her brows and many were of the opinion that it is a trend that should never be brought back to fashion.

Locally being spotted with thin brows is a fashion felony or shao because it’s seen as backward. To make it worse lining them then up with eye pencil is a fashion crime. 

Kenyans have since made a meme out of it that says,  Uyo amechora eyebrows na protractor (She has drawn her eyebrows with a protractor) or she looks like those M-Pesa girls with attitude.”  Comedian Trevor Noah aptly captured the irony of women who wear thin eyebrows, questioning the rationale of shaving off arches only to use an eye-pencil to draw them into a shape that makes one look perpetually angry.

However, is shaving off all brows a fashion trend that is resurrecting? Edward Mutua, of Mavuno Salon, has been in the beauty and hair industry for 10 years. Having vast experience in the field, he says he has seen outrageous things all in the name of beauty.

A lot has changed since the evolution of thin brows. Not everyone who over plucks will look like Rihanna. He explains that sometimes the trendsetters can be disruptive and most times they aim for things that people use and need everyday.

“It’s like skinny jeans. They keep going out fashion but still people wear them. Just because it has been ‘decided’ and put out there doesn’t mean that we should go for the thin brows too,” he says.

Sammyglam, a beautician in Nairobi, receives over 30 clients daily who solely want their eyebrows done and mostly in a way that they look fuller.  He says that brows have become an important routine of the modern woman.

“I saw the Rihanna cover and how she’s been trending for her look. The cover looks good, but the eyebrows are a no-no. Rihanna is a fashion icon, and she can set the trend and she knows how to flaunt it,” he says.

Sam explains that many may want to follow suit not knowing that this was all power of make-up and artistry involved. “Eyebrows add balance to your face, so when you over pluck, one you might look ridiculous and your face may look pale, whilst over exposing the facial structures. Over plucking may cause a permanent problem as the hair may never grow back,” he says.

From mid last year, the eyebrow trend has been evolving  with make-up artists showing their skill with brow trends. The bushy brow was a big hit and the worst of all had to be the squiggly eyebrows.

The thin eyebrows were quite popular in the early 2000s where women at the time used to shave or pluck almost all their brow hairs, leaving a thin brow line. Popular celebrities at that time like Christina Aguilera rocked over plucked eyebrows. Sue Muturi was at the time a college student.

“I had just landed in Nairobi after high school and life here was a bit differen, including the lifestyle. More importantly as a college girl, I wanted to keep up with the town girls. That’s when I first shaved my brows. I look at some of the photos I have and it looks ridiculous. It’s like I didn’t have any eyebrows and I hadn’t discovered eye pencil,” laughs Sue.

Carol Wairimu agrees that the trend was quite popular, more than a decade ago and she fell victim to the trend. For the longest time she had to keep plucking her brows and due to that, she has never fully recovered from the plucking. She is still forced to use brow pencils as she has less hair around her brow line.

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