No one plucks eyebrows in Tajikistan. This quirky tidbit elicited a laugh as new-found friends from the former Soviet state, recently shared photos and insights.
As in North America, primping is a standard part of preparing for national festivities.
Citizens coax unruly hair into place, don ‘Sunday best’ and women apply make-up. But right about then, visitors experience an Alice-in-Wonderland awakening and are apt to blurt forth “We aren’t in Canada anymore.”
Thick, bushy eyebrows are a highly desired commodity for women; and the ultimate prize is the unibrow. Sporting a forest of follicles just above the eyes is viewed as a mark of beauty.
Some nurture them au-natural, while others apply make-up, transforming those embarrassingly thin eyebrows into a single shaggy work of art. I assume suitors admire and woo accordingly: “Oh Martha, your eyebrows look especially lion-like tonight.”
Though decidedly different from what we are used to, who’s to say it’s wrong? Weird and unusual are a matter of perspective. Careful consideration of North American fixations sparks realization that we manufacture our own brands of weirdness.
Consider that the most sought-after female body-type in the movie and modeling industry is shockingly gaunt. Perhaps it’s a conspiracy invented by producers and photographers to keep food costs down during filming and photo-shoots. Whatever the case, a twisted portrayal of beauty is presented to society; and we lap it up. Women long for it and men look for it.
But when is voluntary borderline starvation ever worthy of admiration? I can understand if one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, but a buy-in of this magnitude speaks of mass insanity — poisoned Kool-Aid anyone?
And speaking of strange, have you considered fashion trends of late?
My family announced last fall that it was time for me to update my wardrobe. Apparently the nerd-look is no longer in. To keep me on task and maximize the possibility of success, my 19-year-old son was commissioned to take me shopping.
While obediently trudging behind my eldest into the vast wilderness of fashion-land, I experienced an unexpected bout of deja vu.
We passed mounds of argyle sweaters that looked remarkably similar to those I had slipped into as a teen. Athletic shoes displayed for a new generation could have been plucked from the feet of my fellow high school gym participants.
Modernizing my apparel was as simple as imagining what I would have enjoyed wearing 30 years ago, then purchasing accordingly; minus the male version of short-shorts of course — those remain a nightmare in waiting.
In the midst of a fickle world that is ever redefining beauty and fashion, I’m grateful that God chose to weigh in on the debate. He explains to all generations that “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
He peers through the wrinkles and bodily blemishes that emerge with age. He must chuckle at the fashion trends that tantalize or taunt, depending on which side of those trends we happen to be on. And He gently reminds all that His primary concern is the quality of person who dwells beneath the argyle clothing, within the body — whether thin, thick or any combination thereof.
God seeks interior excellence over exterior charm. Character trumps clothing, integrity beats body image and godliness transcends all — even the unibrow.
Rod Barks is a Saskatchewan pastor of Nipawin Apostolic Church. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.