Who gives a pluck about brows?

BROW BRO: Up-and-coming US pro basketball star Anthony Davis has earned as much attention for his grooming habits.
BROW BRO: Up-and-coming US pro basketball star Anthony Davis has earned as much attention for his grooming habits.

Usually confined to cartoon bullies or bossy Muppets, the monobrow has been making the rounds on newswires as of late and it's all due to one guy - Anthony Davis, an up-and-coming US pro basketball star who's earned as much attention for his grooming habits (or lack thereof) as for his hoops skills.

In the space of a few months, the 19-year-old has become so synonymous with the "unibrow" that if you look up the word in the dictionary (or at least its online equivalent), you'll literally find a picture of his face next to it.

What's most surprising though is the extent to which he's embraced his un-tended look.

In the oddest example yet for a sport obsessed with establishing "personal brands", Davis even trademarked the catchy slogan "Fear the Brow" with the US patent office, adding "I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it...", as though that were a legitimate concern.

But even though Davis's decision to "stay connected" is now largely fiscally motivated, there's still something refreshing about his desire to go au naturel.

I mean, obviously men aren't judged as harshly as women when it comes to issues of personal grooming, but it still takes a pretty brave dude to just flagrantly brush off long-entrenched social standards over what's deemed attractive and acceptable.

It may be a symbol of beauty in Tajikistan, where women actively apply a dark herbal paste to their faces to achieve that "singular look", but generally the monobrow (or "synophrys" for those scientifically-inclined) has been much maligned in Western society.

Not since Frida Kahlo's bold self-portraits, where her exaggerated brow was used to challenge gender norms and espouse ethnic pride, has it been treated as anything other than a cheap punchline.

Or worse: in the famous Victorian-era book of etiquette and social mores, Our Deportment, a chapter titled "Eyebrows Meeting" describes the monobrow as a "disfigurement... for which there is no remedy."

Thanks to my Castilian bloodlines, I'm genetically disposed towards a bushy brow. But, even as a young child, I understood that a continuous hairy line above the eyes was clearly looked down upon.

One day, as a 9-year-old, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and quickly shaved the centre of my linked eyebrows with what was most likely my mum's razor blade (I'm sure I felt at least a little bit ashamed).

Fortunately, I managed to separate mine before it was too obvious, unlike a latter-day classmate who left school one afternoon with linked brows and returned the next morning with a neatly plucked part.

That's not the kinda thing that goes unnoticed amongst teenagers at high-school and, needless to say, he was heckled mercilessly for weeks and probably ended up crying a few lonely tears in a bathroom stall in between classes. If only Davis's brave example had come sooner.

It must be mentioned, then, that there's an unfortunate double standard in being single-stranded, as evidenced by the fact that most responses to Davis's brow, by both men and women, have been something along the lines of "EWWWW, GROSS!"

While many find the monobrow unattractive, there are probably just as many who consider grooming an affront to masculinity. Davis's tragedy (to be dramatic) is that he'll be as much ridiculed for eventually tending to his brow as he currently is for leaving it (luckily, by that point, he'll have billions of dollars to mop up his tears with).

But thankfully, for the moment, we can use this young baller's burgeoning profile as an opportunity to come together (much like his brows) on issues of body hair.

Taken alongside the recent example of hairy armpit advocate, Emer O'Toole, they both provide an inspiration to flout society's silly standards and do what the heck you want with your own hair. Because honestly, who really gives a pluck.

- Sydney Morning Herald