Why has Kate got a Scouse BrowThey”re favoured by WAGs or reality stars. And, says LIZ JONES, such bold brows do not befit the otherwise impeccable Kate
What a terrible metamorphosis. At the Duchess of Cambridge’s most recent public appearance — a reception for fashion folk at the Palace — she caused a stir among the assembled throng not for her choice of dress, but because of her very dark, very thick, very harsh-edged eyebrows.
Were they pencilled, inked, tattooed Or (now here’s a thought) could they be a brand new trend the glossies haven’t even come up with yet: a brow extension, a sort of furry wig for those brunette beauties who can’t grow their own
Whatever the reason, it’s a style most commonly seen on the foreheads of women called Chelsea, Abbey and Jodie. It even has a name — ‘the Scouse Brow’ — after the monster arches sported by the cast of the latest reality TV show, Desperate Scousewives.
In the public eye: The Duchess of Cambridge with lighter eyebrows (left) and today (right)
Seeing a Scouse Brow lurking above the huge dark eyes of our future Queen is like seeing a copy of OK! in the royal loo. So what is going on Kate’s brows have grown exponentially since her student days in Edinburgh, as you can clearly see if you compare pictures of her then and now. It is as if Monty Don has been tending them with some sort of magical mulch and a lawn-edger.
It’s not a question of just not plucking them: if Kate followed that route, she would have a pale fuzz, a la Princess Anne. No, something more sinister is afoot. Or, I suppose, ahead. Unless you are a Denis Healey-type man on the wrong side of 50, eyebrows do not suddenly put on a spurt and start to become darker and thicker. It doesn’t happen. The new Kate brow does not exist in nature.
If David Attenborough wanted to film this phenomenon, he would have to take you to the Brow Studio at Harrods, book you in for a 350 full-brow semi-permanent make-up session, and watch while you are tattooed painfully with a black, viscous dye.
Trust me, I should know. I plucked my own eyebrows in the mid-Seventies to achieve the then fashionable pencil-thin arc, as seen on Sara Moon for the Biba posters. WhenBrooke Shields emerged on the scene in 1980, aged 14 and on the cover of Vogue, with her thick, very straight brows (I’m surprised the magazine didn’t utilise a gatefold, so the brows could continue overleaf), I decided I would grow back my brows. They refused to co-operate.
IS THIS WHERE SHE GOT HER INSPIRATION
Coleen Rooney raises the stakes in eyebrow arcs
Alex Curran keeps her brows fair but thick
Jodie Lundstram sports the original Scouse Brow
Unlike hair anywhere else on the body, such as the chin or what in ancient times used to be known as ‘the bikini line’, brow hair, once plucked, gives up the ghost. Yet that hasn’t stopped more and more women plucking, sculpting and forcing their eyebrows into line. It’s part of a wider obsession with extreme grooming, of which the Scouse Brow is the latest unnatural manifestation.
This addiction to over-decoration started with mani and pedi bars, and fake-tanning salons, moving swiftly on to eyelash extensions, stick-on bling nail decoration and the new gel manicure, which you can’t even remove at home, as you have to go back to the nail bar to have it ‘soaked’ and ‘scalpelled’ (honestly, they scrape off the gel with a blade!). Then there’s hair extensions, wigs, teeth whitening, veneers and on and on and on.
The ‘pampering’ fixation took root in Britain in the early Nineties when women were promised that if only we were as groomed as our New York counterparts, we could all live in lofts and have great careers. This was a ruse, as the grooming became so all-consuming there was no time left for an actual job.
Today, this hyper-grooming is a largely working-class activity (we all know truly posh gals have been raised with such confidence they are perfectly happy with broken veins on their cheeks), a way for young women, feeling disadvantaged and unemployable, to fill their time and, they hope, snare a husband. At Epsom Ladies’ Day this year, I was shocked not only by all the orange tans and Dallas-worthy hair, but by the number of women in their 20s who told me they were housewives. Seriously Ye Gods, what do they do to fill the time
‘We have spa days — there is a lot to pack in,’ they told me. Think it’s accidental that all these dreadful ‘reality’ TV shows — from The Only Way Is Essex to Geordie Shore and Desperate Scousewives — portray women sat around on DFS sofas or in their Wickes kitchens planning pamper parties It’s an attempt to fill the void at the centre of their meaningless lives.
In Desperate Scousewives, the ‘star’ is even a make-up artist/hair stylist called Jodie Lundstram, who has Groucho Marx apostrophes above each beady, over- pencilled eye. Kate is, of course, the most high-profile desperate housewife of them all and I worry that unless she finds more worthy causes to champion, then she will be sucked into the same trap of treating ‘pampering’ as a means of filling her time.
Already, she is in danger of having a whiff of the reality show star about her: the too-long, curled locks with honeyed highlights, the super-white, super-straight teeth courtesy of Harley Street and now the Scouse Brow, which is dark, thick and somehow Neanderthal. I hope it’s not too late, and that Kate has just pencilled them in (there is a new product on the market called Brow Ink that promises to be ‘tattoo worthy’, meaning it won’t rub off).
At least that way the damage is only temporary. Tattooed brows (hopefully the only thing I have in common with Coleen Rooney) are impossible to shift. After they heal, they crust, then scabs fall off, revealing the bold stripe beneath, as though a marker pen has attacked your face.
A year or so in, depending on your skin type, they go a rather unattractive purple colour, which you then have to cover with more ink. It is a horrible cycle, a trap, saddled as you are with brows that won’t age with you, that provincialise (can you imagine Carla Bruni-Sarkozy with thick, hairy ones) and brutalise your face forever more.
So, Kate, please stop fiddling with what nature has given you on your brow. We want you to make young women the length and breadth of the kingdom feel free to celebrate their fresh-facedness and spend less time and money honing and polishing themselves into bland mannequins.