I may be middle aged, but apparently I can still raise my brow game
I WAS WATCHING some soothing Golden Oldies on The YouTube today when I found myself unexpectedly lectured – by a series of irreproachably groomed young women who were waving some sort of pencil at me.
It soon became clear that they were flogging a product aimed at achieving The Perfect Eyebrow, a pursuit that seems to have taken over from achieving World Peace, or Abolishing Poverty, on many young ‘uns To Do lists.
I watched, too transfixed to reach for Skip Ad, as said babes exhorted me to ‘Raise your eyebrow game…. Raise your eyebrow game… Raise your Eyebrow Game….!’ and, blushingly, I wondered if it was not too late for me to do just that.
For some time now, I have been afflicted by Grandad Eyebrows – those sort of horned, sky-seeking tufts that blow in about two decades after Moobs and maybe 10 years before plugs of hair start to clog your actual earholes, like the unknowable contents of a blocked gutter.
Fighting back tears, I have spent many a dire moment wielding my wife’s tweezers and – my eyes also not being what they were – groping for the errant hairs in front of the bathroom mirror.
Nor, lacking the 10,000 hours of practice that women and girls have at this sport, is my spatial awareness up to the challenge of manoeuvring the tweezers in the correct – but opposite – direction and grasping the small but significant bristles.
Honestly, to a man of my vintage, plucking his own eyebrows is harder than winning a soft toy with one of those rigged cranes at the penny arcades.
One of the tenderest things my 15-year-old son has done for me lately – has ever done, in fact – was gently to take the tweezers off me, stand close, really close, and yank three of the fuckers out for his old Dad.
But there’s no future in this arrangement – I want him to retain some respect for me – and yet the brows keeping on reaching up and out and I need to find a solution.
I have been daydreaming about Eyebrow Threading for a while but, even after a number of web searches, I’m still not quite sure what Eyebrow Threading is, or does. My daughter says kindly that my eyebrows are fine, and don’t need it.
Meanwhile my wife, whose own naturally perfect brows are a source of slightly nasty pride for her, declares that while mine may be horribly bushy at one end, they are far too puny at the other to even bother.
With all this going on, I hope that you will understand my moment of weakness with the babes.
For a few seconds, I really did want to Raise My Eyebrow Game.
And then the rage kicked in. How dare they make me feel bad about my brows to sell product? How dare they make vulnerable Twenty-somethings with probably perfectly lovely brows feel inadequate about their Brow Games? How could the superficially lovely young women in the advert bum out and sell out their Twenty-something sisters just for a start in the modelling or acting game, a slice of the corporate pie?
In this era of Me Too, Everyday Sexism, Toxic- and (often quite rightly) embattled masculinity, it can often be quite hard for an Older Geezer like me to know quite how to relate to young women.
This Brow Game thing, though, cuts through the confusion. Because being in my 50s and worrying about my bald head, my brows, my Moobs and every aspect of my looks has made me realise just what a crock it is to be a woman, old or young, and relentlessly targeted by the beauty, diet, healthcare, sleep fashion and whatever industries.
Raising Your Brow Game is the old, old capitalist story: create demand for something by making customers – people – feel bad about themselves and then sell them a solution to the problem they created. It makes billions, but it sucks.
Being 50-something puts you on the back foot about the way you look, makes you vulnerable and suggestible, just like I was. Just like women have been every day for at least a century or two now.
So I suppose here, at least, is something – the despairing middle aged man and the young insecure woman – can find common cause against. We want to be at peace with ourselves. Can you leave us alone to get on with that, please?