They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. But if you’re woman living in Iceland, eyebrows are equally as important.
When I first moved to Iceland, I noticed a strange commonality among my female coworkers. Every few weeks, a woman would appear at work and something would be different. Had she gotten a haircut? Was she wearing more makeup? Did she lose weight?
After a second, more detailed scan I would pinpoint the change. It was the eyebrows–they were thicker, darker and more vivid. This–shall we say–intensity was not especially attractive, almost making the women appear vaguely angry.
After some days, the women’s eyebrows would fade and become more normal looking, and my curiosity would diminish.
Eventually, a new friend asked if she could dye my eyebrows. I felt honored by the request, as if I were being invited into a club that I never knew existed.
“Ohhhhh! I’ve noticed that’s a thing here,” I said. “But aren’t they are bit, erm, dark afterward?”
“Nei nei,” she laughed. “Some people just leave the dye on too long. We’ll set a timer, don’t worry.”
And so, my eyebrows were dyed Icelandic-style for the very first time. I was blessed with my mother’s brows which are darker and thicker on one side but then fade into blonde nothingness toward my temples. So basically, half an eyebrow.
The dye made the blonde hair turn an appropriate brown-black, and suddenly, my eyebrows were even and well-shaped. And while the brows were a teensy bit too dark on that first day, they faded quickly and were soon the perfect shade.
Yesterday, we went to look at another house for sale. The conversation was taking place in Icelandic until my husband told the homeowner that I was American and was still learning the language.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “You just really have an Icelandic look to you.”
I smiled, knowing exactly why I been mistaken for a local. The night before, I’d had my eyebrows done.