Make a mental list of the groups of people who get their eyebrows plucked, shaved or otherwise tamed into neat little arches, and active duty United States service members probably don’t make the cut. But they should.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a healthy number of our soldiers, marines and other military personnel abroad are asking their, um, tonsorial professionals to whack their eyebrows into shape. Sure, some of them do it to make certain their foreheads are just as presentable as the rest of their tightly regulated uniforms, but others get their brows groomed because they like the aesthetics. And what you might think is a small number of men sounds like it’s growing:
Gulam Farooq, 21, camp barber at Forward Operating Base Joyce, near the Pakistan border, says Islam forbids eyebrow-shaping for Muslim men. But he happily performs the service, using a razor or a special threading technique, for an average of one or two U.S. soldiers a day. “I trained for it at a barber school in Kabul,” where religious strictures are less rigidly observed, he says.
One or two a day? Threading? The Journal story is careful to mention that “the camp is rife with unconfirmed rumors of waxing,” too.
Most of the men who have their bushy brows taken down are younger — one soldier who avoids the practice calls them “straight guys—just a little metrosexual.” Older soldiers say they don’t get it, and that might have to do something with how painful eyebrow grooming can be.
Staff Sgt. Mark Prodigalidad, a 32-year-old infantryman from Tampa, Fla., gave threading a try on a lark. The camp barber included it in the price of a $5 haircut. Sgt. Prodigalidad says he found it so painful that he had to call a timeout halfway through.
“I’ll probably never do it again because it hurt like hell,” he says.
Call us crass for saying so, but if you can’t handle the pain of a grooming technique women all over the world have done on a regular basis, maybe the infantry isn’t the right gig for you.