Why the heck did God give us eyebrows? - (5/24/2022)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

A tall, sophisticated-looking lady strolled up to the pharmacist. "Excuse me, sir," she said to the pharmacist. "Where do you keep your eyebrow pluckers?" This would have been a perfectly normal question had Jimmy not been standing within earshot. Jimmy was the town clown. A joke machine, for better or for worse. After the pharmacist directed the woman to Aisle 6, where the beauty items were located, Jimmy got right into the pharmacist's face. "Eyebrow plucker!" Jimmy chuckled. "Hey, Doc, what did the beautician say to the stingy customer who asked for a free eyebrow job? She said, 'I don't pluck just anyone for nothing!'" Of course, Jimmy is his own best audience, and he laughed uproariously. "Why are eyebrows so funny?" he asked the pharmacist. 

Are eyebrows funny, thought the pharmacist. After all, they can be plucked, tattooed, removed, thickened, thinned, arched, dyed, pierced, lifted, and transplanted. Like hairstyles and skirt lengths, fashionistas have defined and redefined the best way a brow should look. For example, around 1703, all the rage was to trap mice and use their fur to form artificial brows, according to the National Leather Collection in England. The pelts were tanned and then trimmed into the desired shape and adhered to the forehead. Now there's a funny fad!

Still, why are eyebrows there to begin with? Meanwhile, Jimmy was ready to launch another zinger. "I told my girlfriend she drew her eyebrows on crooked. She looked confused!" "Wait! Here's another one," he volunteered. "I told my friend she draws her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised!"  Badda-bing! But back to the reason why eyebrows exist from a physical standpoint. Eyebrows soak up sweat and dirt so our vision is not clouded. Brows redirect rain and force drops to run down the side of our face instead of into our eyes. But from an evolutionary perspective, eyebrows are essential for both facial recognition and non-verbal communication. In one study, participants were shown photos of famous people, but under one condition: the eyebrows of the famous person were removed. The study revealed that less than half the participants could identify that person – even if the person was Richard Nixon. Thus, if your grandma came barreling up the street and her eyebrows were removed, you might pass her by without so much as a how-de-do. 

As far as non-verbal communication goes, listen to Jimmy the Joke Generator's next quip: "Why were the eyelid and the eyebrows always fighting? Because they just couldn't see eye to eye." Some of you would raise your eyebrows in delight (or shock). Some would furrow them in disgust. The more agile of you would be able to raise one just eyebrow as if to say, "Does anyone else want to hit Jimmy with a cream pie?"

Researchers have estimated that the average person can have 250 to 350 hairs per brow. They vary in shape, thickness, and direction. People who study facial characteristics report that one can read into another person's soul by their eyebrows. Example: More peaked eyebrows correspond to people that like to have fun, think and talk fast, and make quick, sometimes impulsive decisions. They tend to choose Pepsi over Coke. Straight-line brows are generally on people who think logically about decisions. They are typically not hyper-emotional. They tend to select Coke but only after extensive research. 

The pharmacist decided to amaze Jimmy with a joke of his own. "When I was a kid, plastic surgery was a taboo subject. These days if you mention Botox, no one raises an eyebrow." Jimmy arched one brow and flattened the other when he said, "I don't get it." And he departed quick as a wink. 

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.


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