Aaisha’s Ramadaan diaries, Day 14: On keeping your brows on fleek

Day 14: Eyebrows

This may be the most fashion/make-up blogger-type post that I write in this diary, and I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. But I’m gonna talk about something I really want to talk about: my eyebrows.

The woman who does my eyebrows is one of the most influential people in my life. She does not even realise how much power she holds. Because when she tells me, “Hold top and bottom” when I go to her every couple of weeks and then cleans the area around my eyebrows up with her thread so nicely, she makes me look far neater than I did when I came in and by doing that, I too, walk out with a boost of confidence.

I go to a wonderful woman named Madhvi, and I call her Madhvi Masi out of respect (Masi means aunt). In my opinion she is the best, but the other women at the salon  – Mina Beauty Parlour in Fordsburg, next to Roman’s Pizza – are really good too (Madhvi Masi is just my fave). In the ten or so minutes I lay there while she does her magic, she’ll tell me about her daughter and ask me about my studies and my work. We’ll chat about the weather and I’ll ask how busy they’ve been (they’re always busy) while I savour the therapy that is eyebrow threading. I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s therapy for me because I know I’m gonna come out looking and feeling better, and it’s gonna impact not only my face but also my mood.

Doing my eyebrows is a pick-me-up strategy, and having gifted people like Madhvi Masi around to do it is something I’m grateful for because I know it’s authentic. It’s an Indian tradition and something she, an Indian woman, is well-trained in – I feel a sense of trust, a sense of community, and I like knowing that although it may seem like a menial thing, it’s something that is empowering for both of us.

Which is why I’m wary of Woolies’ brow bar, and others like it – yeah you’re getting really great eyebrows out of it, but at what expense? And I’m not talking the R75 price difference. I’m talking the experience of it all – the almost inaudible mutterings in Gujarati, the advice you get dispensed in between (“If you do a haldi mask it will help with your pigmentation”), the sureness and guarantee that the whole relationship holds.

My relationship with Madhvi Masi is so much more than her just being my eyebrow lady. When I tried to take a picture of her a few months ago for my Snapchat story so that I could brag about her, she was so shy that she refused. And that’s the kind of person she is; humble and kind, and so unaware of what kind of impact she has on me and – I’m certain – so many others too.

This is a special Ramadaan series by our fave Muslim reporter, Aaisha Dadi Patel. for Day 13’s musings, click here.