Mall Eyebrow Grooming

Most malls now have one or more stalls in prime walking space offering to shape your eyebrows on the spot. Have a seat in the recliner and a technician will work her magic on you, right there in front of all the people strolling by or wolfing down a chicken sandwich at the food court.

I wonder what motivates the people who sit down for a public eyebrow treatment. I want to ask one of them whether they’ve planned this or if it is an impulse, like “my eyebrows need shaping and here’s just the place to do it.” Are they suddenly shocked by an unflattering reflection in a mirror? Was their regular salon booked? Or is it the novelty of trying the threading technique that compells them? 

Threading is a hair removal technique that goes back hundreds of years. The eyebrow technician uses a string of tightly wound cotton, threading part of it through her mouth and using both hands to guide the string and pluck individual hairs. The technicians appear surprisingly deft with this, and the advantages are that the technique is precise and free of chemicals. Many salons practice threading, but at a mall stall, patrons serve as live models for the technique and a spectacle for passers-by.

Personally, I’m sort of put off by this grooming theater. For one thing, it seems a true southern lady would never do this in public. Isn’t the whole point of our extensive grooming efforts to maintain the illusion that unruly brows don’t exist? Even acknowledging that brows need attention, should we really be plucking them near a food court? Finally, why would anyone do so in plain sight? Aren’t there enough salons, booths and curtains in the world?

Similarly, when I see someone stuck in a chair in the middle of the mall with a tooth-whitening lamp in their mouth, I feel a pang of pity for them. It’s awkward enough to sit in the dentist’s chair grunting answers to the hygienist about your teeth. Who wants to chance seeing an acquaintance while you’re in that state? That’s why I’ve never been keen on those mall salons where clients are worked on behind a big window. It’s just cruel to put someone on display in a smock and perm rods, even if it is of their own volition.

All that to say, you won’t find me sitting in one of those chairs getting my eyebrows done for your food court entertainment. But if you choose to do so, I wish you anonymity and dignity in your quest. If I know you, I promise not to let on.