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He Called Them Caterpillars, And He Wasn’t Being Unkind


One of my favorite bloggers, Emily R. at Wheels on the Bus, asked me (after I begged for suggestions of things to talk about BESIDES adult diapers. Which, dude, I don’t know WHY you don’t want to hear about that) if I shaped my eyebrows. Well, Emily, the answer should be fairly apparent soon.

Probably about 5 years ago, I learned via some weird familial conversation that I was, indeed, a teeny-weenie part Italian. Now, this didn’t mean that I immediately ran out to buy one of those horn necklaces or some Italian flags to throw over my rearview mirror. Hell, I didn’t even start peppering my everyday conversation with corny Italian phrases. Apparently, being something like 0.005% Italian doesn’t inspire the same amount of (freakish) pride as someone who is 100%.

I’d always wondered where my dark skin and overall swarthiness (dude. Swarthiness is an underused word. I’m completely planning to bring swarthiness back. Fuck sexy.) came from, considering that the way I understood it, I was something like 80% Swedish and the rest Scottish. Neither of which are really known for being as brown as I am.

I also blame my teeny percentage of Italian-ness for the overabundance of body hair peppering my body.

Now, I’m SWARTHY, not a Sasquatch, so don’t get too ahead of yourself while thinking of my ultimate hotness. I’m also (now) incredibly good with a bottle of Nair and a pair of tweezers, so it might not be as evident if you were to see me on the street (or, perhaps, at BlogHer).

When I was pregnant with Ben, I wasn’t so much concerned with my body hair. There was something about all of the turmoil and unrest of the whole situation that didn’t leave me running for the tweezers, and for the first time in many years, I let my eyebrows–and other *ahem* parts of my body–go au naturale. (that’s “natural” for my non-French speaking readers. I know, I know, I’m so Continental!).

Besides, through a steady diet of Chinese food and Steak -n- Shake, I had turned into quite the oompa loompa, gaining approximately 70 pounds (I stopped looking at the scale at the doctor’s office) on my 5’5″ frame. I just knew I would be breastfeeding all of those pesky pounds away, so I figured when I did that–likely within the first month or so–I’d wax the hell out of myself, and BAM! just like that, I’d be a butterfly emerging from my cocoon of fat and hair!

Go ahead and get your laughter out now. Come on, let it out. I’ll wait.

Done? Good.

So yeah. Breast-feeding didn’t exactly work for Ben and I, and he was born with his days and his nights mixed up, and he screamed pretty much 90% of the time he was awake. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly lose that 70 pounds within that first month, nor was I coherent enough to even THINK about going to the salon.

My ever-loving brother, Aaron, came over one weekend with his new girlfriend (now my sister-in-law) to visit my young son, and in the lull between oogling my baby, he looked over at me, sitting there on the couch with toothpicks keeping my eyeballs from slamming shut and began to smirk mightily.

“Stumpy*,” he began to laugh. “What the HELL is going on with your eyebrows?”

Sleep deprivation, after many weeks, makes one incredibly stupid, so I just looked wearily at him, trying to make sense of what he meant by “eyebrows.”

“THEY LOOK LIKE CATERPILLARS SITTING ON THE TOP OF YOUR EYES!” He was in hysterics now, laughing so hard that he began to tear up. He then marched into the bathroom on that floor and grabbed me a pair of tweezers, all the while laughing his ass off.

Still not quite sure what he meant, as I hadn’t even looked in a mirror that day yet, I went into the bathroom and turned on the light. What I saw both shocked and horrified me: apparently, without proper maintenance, the upper half of my face turned into that of Groucho Marx. What worked for Brooke Shields did NOT work for me. Not by a long shot.

And, dammit, he was right. They looked like big, black caterpillars waggling on the top of my eyes.

Which meant that something needed to be done. Now.

I quickly secured a babysitter and practically levitated to the scary nail salon down the street, where approximately 4 pounds of eyebrow hair was removed in a haze of waxy glory. It may have hurt quite a bit, but I honestly don’t remember that. I only remember how much lighter and blissfully freer my forehead felt after that.

Had I known just how stupid I’d look without proper maintenance, unrest or not, I’d have found some time for some personal grooming in there, even if I did closely resemble the Michelin Man. At least my eyebrows would look fantastic.

So spill: what’s one of the dumber things you’ve done in the name (or not) of beauty?

*Stumpy is my nickname. Given to me by my brother, who was amazed that I was so short. Lest you think he’s some kind of giant, let me assure you that he is shorter than my father. Who is 6 feet tall.

posted under I'm Big In Japan
41 Comments to

“He Called Them Caterpillars, And He Wasn’t Being Unkind”

  1. On November 18th, 2008 at 11:43 am Miss Grace Says:

    Oh man, I have the opposite problem. I have like ten eyebrow hairs (combined) and it’s taken me years of careful practice to color them on in such away that does not make me look like a chola.

  2. On November 18th, 2008 at 12:21 pm Kristine Says:

    I always start calling myself Bert when my eyebrows get out of hand.

    One time I tried to wax them myself. I put wax in a bad spot and to get it off, I tried a hot compress, which burned half my face.

    From then on I left it to professionals. And 2 months ago I discovered threading. It’s cheaper, more hygenic and it seems to last longer. I’m not going to say it hurts more or less, I’d say it hurts the same, but it takes longer than the few rips of wax takes. Find a good Indian salon, they’re the best.

  3. On November 18th, 2008 at 12:27 pm Marie Says:

    I feel your pain in this area. I don’t know of what decent I am, but I do fall somewhere between swarthy and sasquatch.

  4. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:03 pm kbrients Says:

    oh my god… I love steak ‘n’ shake….

    And uh– my sister completly tweezed off an entire eyebrow once!

  5. On November 18th, 2008 at 12:04 pm SciFi Dad Says:

    In Kazakhstan, woman with large unibrow very desirable to make the sexy with.

  6. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:24 pm Heather Says:

    I am jealous. I can’t wax my eyebrows, despite them being somewhat unruly (by which I mean weird and hairy) because every time I do my entire forehead turns bright red and stays that way (complete with the puffy) for days). So yeah… and tweezing is totally out because Oh The Pain. My cosmetologist sister says I have unnecessarily large root bulbs on my hairs, so the pain is worse. Uh huh. You might be swarthy, but I have HUGE ROOT BULBS. What am I, a tulip? A hairy, hairy tulip…

  7. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:59 pm Kgrrrl Says:

    I have HUGE eyebrows. I’ve had them shaped since I was in grade 9 when one of my girlfriends asked: Um, K, can I fix those? lovely.
    Since then i’ve tweezed for years. Then I decided to grow the suckers out to start waxing. LOVED it!
    But then I still tweeze and when i’m having issues, grow it all out start from scratch. I have to agree with one of the readers though – I LOVE LOVE LOVE threading. I had it done in New York as a fun treat (since everything should be fashionable in new york, including eyebrows) and it was awesome. The growth took forever and though it hurt – I liked it way more than waxing.
    Cheaper too!

  8. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:03 pm Badass Geek Says:

    I think that, with the mental image I now have of you with Groucho Mark eyebrows, you still would have won first place in the Miss Maine Lake Region contest.

    There are some real DOGS out here.

  9. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:11 pm Em Says:

    I chopped my long hair off the weekend after I got engaged. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb! Luckily it was 9 months until we got married, so I managed a decent up do for the big event (way before hair extensions were invented for everyday folk). I guess I figured I had the ring, I could take the fashion risk. Not good.

    The real question should be: how the hell did a Swede, a Scotchman and an Italian EVER cross paths!?


  10. On November 18th, 2008 at 1:46 pm Anjali Says:

    Mine look absolutely horrible right now, so bad that I’m tempted to take all three children with me to get them done tomorrow.

    There’s nothing that drives me crazy like having caterpillar eyebrows.

  11. On November 18th, 2008 at 2:50 pm melanie Says:

    I dont wear make-up, and I really should, I have decent skin, but my sisters cluck at me all the time about not taking the time to wear make-up, that and not taking the time to blow out my hair…… seriously i am so damn depressed about all the hair that has fallen out since birthing my last kiddo (and is still continuing to fall out), that you would think I would make time to blow dry my last 100 strands, because I NEED every hair to fluff so I dont look so well BALD, but I hate it, so i dont do it like i should……… I swear one day the What not to wear crew is going to show up at my doorstep, but then again, probably not, I highly doubt they sell size 16 clothes in NYC…….so I would be toast with the Visa card.

  12. On November 18th, 2008 at 2:58 pm Don Mills Diva Says:

    That’s very funny. I run to swarthy myself and the eyebrows are done once a month without fail!

  13. On November 18th, 2008 at 2:29 pm Sarah Says:

    My son is swarthy!! Please, bring it back. He’s got like 1% Sicilian and 1% Argentine(an?) and he works it. He was born tan. Contrasting with my daughter’s transparent skin, that she got from me and my Scottish/Irish/Dutchness. Just weird, because The Man is 98% Irish, second generation removed from…. one crazy grandma and BAM – Swarthy son emerges.

    Things I’ve done in the name of beauty… or not…. uh… that platinum blonde summer was completely unexpected. One really shouldn’t try to highlight one’s own hair. Ever.

  14. On November 18th, 2008 at 2:31 pm Sarah Says:

    Oh.. sadly, I should mention that my poor transparent daughter is the one that scored the overgrowth of hair. Bless her wild little eyebrows.

  15. On November 18th, 2008 at 3:36 pm Sandy Says:

    I don’t have much of an eyebrow issue, but my PCOS has given me a lovely beard elsewhere on my face that I must tweeze/nair/shave (each method in different areas) to achieve the result that I truly am a woman and not a man taking estrogen or a woman on testosterone. It all began the day when I was 17 and a camp counselor and a little piece of shit kid asked me why I had a beard. Mean kids suck. So ever since then, I am plucking, shaving or nair’ing some part of my face at least once daily.

  16. On November 18th, 2008 at 3:50 pm swirl girl Says:

    I don’t pluck eyebrows…never have – but those other ittle chin hairs that pop up? Gone!

    and as far as the au naturale thing for other parts of the anatomy …I don’t wax – and NEVER Brazilian (the thought of somebody literally ‘spreading my wings’ so they can clean it up ‘ without the happy ending ? Naaah) but when I had a hyterectomy, I didn’t know I was going to be shaven…so now I have sort of a ‘taco goatee’ …just a cute little tuft of well manicured lawn.

  17. On November 18th, 2008 at 4:11 pm ewe_are_here Says:

    I always notice poor eyebrow tweezing jobs when I’m out and about… department store mirrors plus department store lighting equal too much information sometimes.


  18. On November 18th, 2008 at 4:24 pm queen-size funny bone Says:

    I tried to dye my eye brows to match my hair and left it on too long and some of the skin dyed, I went to work for two weeks loking like Graucho Marx.

  19. On November 18th, 2008 at 3:27 pm heather Says:

    Would it be wrong to wax the Beans’ eyebrows? Should I wait until she’s at least two? E’s family? They’re all, um, ‘swarthy;’ she clearly takes after them. She has her very own caterpillar that I imagine will only get bigger and bigger and bigger until she looks just like her father. Bwahahahaha.

    Interestingly, she was born with eyebrows that would likely rival your own. That was the first thing strangers commented on when they saw her … “Look at THOSE eyebrows!” She’s a lovely, beautiful baby despite my unkind representations. 🙂

  20. On November 18th, 2008 at 3:36 pm chibi Says:

    I’d kill to have my old eyebrows back. After a number of years of zealous plucking as a teen, I have patchy little commas above my eyes that only show up if I use brow pencil (otherwise my commas have no tails).

  21. On November 18th, 2008 at 5:20 pm Ellie Says:

    I have two comments. My sister (and co-blogger)’s friends called me “Ellie Eyebrow”. I am all over the caterpillar look.

    And two. I love the word swarthy. And I use it. My friend Owen is both swarthy and hirsute. I know! It’s almost too much to take.

  22. On November 18th, 2008 at 5:20 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    The first time I went to get my brows waxed, Douche had been away with Army stuff for a few weeks, and I was “gonna get purty” for him before he came home. I have pretty thin eyebrows anyway, they really just need to be cleaned up every now and then, but the lady took off so much eyebrow that I looked like a chola. And I am very pale with blonde hair! YIKES!!!

    Luckily, after many years, I found someone to wax my brows who I trust. So much easier than plucking.

  23. On November 18th, 2008 at 5:38 pm foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) Says:

    My brows are pale, and when I asked my stylist once about waxing them, she was all ‘Oh, no! They’re the perfect shape!” So really, that’s about all I got going for me. My eyebrows are in perfect shape, but I have ragged nails half the time, and I’ve made arrangements with Tool Man that when we end up in the nursing home, he’s to pluck errant hairs that pop out on my chin so I don’t have the she-beard

  24. On November 18th, 2008 at 5:54 pm Sara Says:

    I have three eyebrows, so not plucking is never going to be an option, but GOING to get them done is not something I can do all willy nilly like. I had them done once by the lovely asian lady at the BX in Mississippi. I ended up having thin straight lines for eyebrows. It was not okay. She completely waxed off the third one.

    I have also worn stillettos. And I cannot for the LIFE of me walk in FLIP FLOPS. I tend to fall off my shoes.

  25. On November 18th, 2008 at 8:46 pm mumma boo Says:

    Dumbest beauty thing? Spiral perm. Twice. Ouch.

  26. On November 18th, 2008 at 9:03 pm Emily R Says:

    glad to inspire you. as a preteen, i cut my bangs and bleached a streak underneath my hair.

  27. On November 18th, 2008 at 9:54 pm Rebel Says:

    Do you even care that I just ruined all of the paperwork on my desk spewing coffee out of my nostrils???

    Yeah I didn’t think so!!!

    You are a trainwreck!!!

    The dumbest thing I have ever done…. turn the Clark loose on my girlie bits with a razor the night before I was going in to get induced with the Turtle…

    because I was so NOT going to be one of those women the nurses talk about who has a rabbit scurry from her underbrush when she spreds ‘um to push!!!

    It looked like Freddie Cruger had his way with me!! Even the Ob got quite a big giggle from that one!!! I on the other hand was not amused!!!

  28. On November 18th, 2008 at 10:26 pm Tanya Says:

    Sasquatch here… not only do I have to wax/tweeze the brows, I have to trim them because the hair is about 6 inches long (Okay, maybe I exagerate… It’s really about 1 inch long).

    Add to that the fact that I have my face lasered to remove the entire moustache/beard area.

    Then there are the hairy man arms, etc.

    Lets just say if I could support the entire hair removal industry on my own… ya, I totally won the genetic lottery there.

  29. On November 19th, 2008 at 12:30 am sara Says:

    I love eyebrow stories! Yours made me crack up all over!! Well, my eyebrows are a unibrow if I let them get out of control. Honestly, it’s not a pretty sight 🙂 (my dad gave me that great gift of his unibrow – I can only hope I don’t pass it along to Brynn, LOL) Hope you’re doing good – sorry for the long radio silence on my end 🙂

  30. On November 19th, 2008 at 3:11 am Melissa Says:

    You seriously kill me.

    I didn’t have the facial hair problem til I had the Divas. Now it is bad. I not only have the brow but now the chin/neck, lip – you name it. Damn kids.

    Biggest beauty error? Funny you should ask. Check out today’s post. 2 words – lobster ass.

  31. On November 19th, 2008 at 9:04 am Betts Says:

    My eyebrows are okay. I just pluck here and there to clean up strays. They’re a little thin though, so I’m expecting that to turn into non-existent in my old age. No, I have other hair problems with I affectionately call “gorilla toe”. Both of my big toes have long dark hairs on them. I trim them and then bleach because I’m afraid it’s going to get thicker if I shave or wax. In the winter, I just let’m go.

  32. On November 19th, 2008 at 9:30 am Valerie Says:

    You know who has huge eyebrows?

    Sylar, on Heroes. Those are caterpillars.

  33. On November 19th, 2008 at 9:38 am Painted Maypole Says:

    what, no photo?

  34. On November 19th, 2008 at 10:25 am Rachel Says:

    I tried to wax my armpits once…which meant I had to let the hair grow long enough for the wax to adhere to…that in and of itself was gross. But I never expected the excruciating pain of waxing an armpit. I mean, I’m no stranger to pain, I regularly waxed ‘down there’ when I used to actually leave the house and stuff, but armpit waxing is definitely more painful. And it didn’t even work very well, I still had stubble. NEVER AGAIN, I say!

  35. On November 19th, 2008 at 10:27 am Dot Says:

    I have a picture of my great grandfather, and he has those bushy eyebrows where the hairs curl in all directions, including upwards towards the forehead. A few years ago, I noticed that I’m getting a few of those too. Yikes.

  36. On November 19th, 2008 at 10:40 am Susan Says:

    I regularly have my eyebrows and hoo-ha waxed as I’ve shamelessly shared with the internet many times. The dumbest thing I ever did for beauty was go to Fantastic Sam’s two days before my high school reunion to get my bangs trimmed, “just a little.” I had 3/4″ bangs when I left that place. Even though I still showed myself at the reunion, I fell on the sidewalk in front of everyone and ripped my stockings and bloodied my knee. I was a disgusting mess.

  37. On November 19th, 2008 at 12:32 pm Coco Says:

    In high school: Sun-In. Remember it? Yes, the weak peroxide solution that was supposed to give one a “sun-kissed look”. I LOVED it…but the look it gave me was really more “Circus” than “Surfer Girl”. Wow, the unfortunate pictures of me with orange hair (that had also been crimped – RAWR) still make me cringe.

    As an adult: I’m cheap, so I do my own waxing, and I generally have good results, but when they say on the box “do not wax the same area more than once”, it’s a safety tip you don’t want to ignore. After being dissatisfied with my brows one session, I did just that, however, and ended up waxing off two crescent shaped sections of skin from my upper eyelids. Oh yes, oozing blisters that scab over and leave scars for months are even sexier than your swarthy brows, baby.

  38. On November 19th, 2008 at 11:52 am anita doberman Says:

    Hey, I am 100% Italian! Here is a word in Italian that we use when someone is hairy but kind of sexy “verace” natural but hot..kind of like me 🙂

  39. On November 19th, 2008 at 8:53 pm tash Says:

    Are you old enough to remember temporary color that you put in your hair . . . via mousse?

    Or light blue eye shadow?

    Or feathered hair? (With a cowlick?)

    I could go on. Thank goodness there is little photographic evidence of this blot on my life. Now I just look unkempt 24/7, but at least I don’t have that “I’m trying!” desperate air about me.

  40. On November 19th, 2008 at 8:05 pm Lola Says:


    Well, I was a fortunate gal in the eyebrow department and only fucked up my hair with a couple spiral perms that took forever to grow out in the late ’80s.

    I’d have to say my biggest mistake SO FAR was getting my spider veins shot off. Wearing support hose is a major discomfort, and the fuckers just come back somewhere else. At $600 a pop, just call me Spidey!

  41. On August 5th, 2009 at 10:34 am Zashkaser Says:

    You think everything sounds like existentialism.

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