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Toddlers and Unibrows and Hair Removal… Oh My!

A hairy people.

Ask the average mom whether or not she’d consider removing a hypothetical unibrow on her toddler and the answer seems to be a resounding “absolutely not!”

Yet I don’t think the issue is as black and white as society’s general opinion would have you believe. Also, most of the moms answering with a solid no probably don’t have kids with hairy foreheads.

As parents we do a slew of socially acceptable things to our toddlers in the name of vanity so I’m not so sure that those opting for unibrow groomage should be making headlines and being called terrible moms for doing so.

Violet’s father descends from a hairy people. And I say that with admiration. Her Pépé, Serge’s dad, is a Frenchman who comes from Polish people. He’s in his mid-sixties and still has a luxurious head of hair. And a luxurious set of eyebrows. Serge is the same plus a beard. If left unchecked, Serge’s eyebrows would  spread, eventually covering his entire face. And so it is with Violet. She has, how do I say, a prominent brow.

I’ve noted it but wouldn’t do anything about it, at this juncture. It’s just not important right now. It’s also not hairy enough right now.

While I wouldn’t bother with a unibrow on a toddler, I would probably take action once she goes to elementary school.

We can all engage in that high-minded talk about how looks aren’t important and we need to set a good example for our children and yes, I have a strong personal belief in honoring my own thoughts and actions over meeting society’s sometimes bizarre expectations, but I also know from experience how something as simple as ample eyebrow hair can cause problems among children.

Unfortunately, my experience and memory isn’t that that of feeling judged but of looking somewhat unfavorably upon a classmate for differences because that’s how kids are. Dirty ears, boogery noses, big moles, lots of eyebrow hair: when something is so obviously different on someone’s face it affects how they are perceived by a classmate whether you want to believe that or not. Unibrows can and are perceived as “dirty” and “gross” and if I can remedy that perception of my sweet girl in a few simple steps, why not?

So, while I’d like to say that I would continue sending my first or second grade daughter to school with her unibrow, a firm nod toward the natural beauty of girls that would make Frida Kahlo proud, I would probably remedy the unibrow in a painless way. Cream, perhaps? Or one of those fancy instruments sold on infomercials that remove the hair with the sweep of a wand?

Because as much as I want to take a Kahlo-esque stand, I wouldn’t feel comfortable using my daughter to make my own point. You could argue that removing the brow before she asks about it is also using her to make my own point, but I also consider it my job as a mom to teach her how girls appropriately groom and even teach her how, unfortunately, society judges things like unibrows — and I believe getting rid of a unibrow falls into that category.

I don’t want to give her the impression that looks are everything but if the hair was prominent enough, if it was hard to look her in the eyes and not see the unibrow, I’d get rid of it and in doing so, ultimately teach her how to do it herself, if she wants to, and then the decision is hers. The repercussions of roaming around elementary school with a unibrow aren’t worth the satisfaction of sticking it to societal expectations, for me. After all, I started shaving my legs in 7th grade. Hair removal is a huge part of the lives of a lot of women. It’s just the way it is whether we like it or not and if I can do something small like remove a couple of hairs for my daughter every week or so it can help her classmates (and the world) focus on her and not her unibrow then, by all means.

However, this doesn’t answer the question of whether or not I’d do it for a toddler. The internet is rife with unsure moms posing the question of whether or not they should get rid of their toddler’s unibrow. More often than not, the answer is of the ‘How could you even consider it?!’ variety.

Here is a woman who wants to get rid of a unibrow on her 22-month old daughter. A mother answers and tells her she uses a facial hair trimmer on her son’s unibrow.  The debate over removing unibrows goes on for two pages over on Baby Center. A stylist tells the group that they wax the unibrows of children all the time in the salon and it doesn’t hurt the kids at all. She adds that they only do  it on “school age children,” though. This conversation on a mom messageboard ends with most people saying they wouldn’t do it until their kid asked about it. A poll at the top of the page shows that 52% of more than 100 people who voted said that it’s inappropriate to wax a toddler’s eyebrows. 25% said it would depend and they’d have to think about it. Only 13% answered they would wax a toddler’s unibrow.

I would really love to answer with a resounding no, that I’d never attempt to get rid of my toddler’s unibrow because my natural inclination is to say ‘She’s just a little girl, let her be!’  But I can’t honestly answer because I don’t know how I’d feel if my beautiful daughter had a unibrow so prominent it’s likely the first thing everyone sees when they look at her face. But, in the end, I think that if my precious toddler was sporting a brow that would rival Frida Kahlo’s, I’d probably attempt to remove some of the hair in a painless (hair trimmer) way. What’s the big deal? As parents we do lots of things for our toddlers that seemingly fall back to vanity. Haircuts, pierced ears (painful! and on babies!) and painting fingernails. Somehow all these grooming and preening behaviors are socially acceptable yet trimming up a rampant brow is to be frowned upon? Something to call someone a bad mother over? I’m not understanding the immediate reaction of ‘absolutely not’ regarding unibrow removal while there are thousands, if not millions of babies crawling around with pierced ears and nobody bats an eye.

Is brow grooming really so different from trimming fingernails or bangs that fall into eyes? Do we not cut our daughter’s hair to conform to some societal expectation? And if not our daughter’s what about our sons? My 22-month-old son had a serious mullet and, more often than not, the big question was ‘When are you going to cut that boy’s hair?’ as if the mullet was painful for him, as if it was my duty as a mother to cut his hair into a “boy style.” How is cutting off my son’s mullet any different than painlessly removing some brow hair on a toddler? Both are hair removal to conform to some societal expectation of appropriate appearance.

I’m debating myself aloud here in an effort to determine what I’d really do in this scenario, but I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Here is the question: if your toddler had a really intense unibrow would you remove it?

Read more from Monica on Babble:

 

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