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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Strube

Brow Crime

I think I’ve become a criminal.

Or at least that’s what the poster told me. Strolling down the streets of Shanghai on the way to the Propaganda museum, I was accosted by 4 mugshots glaring at me, eerily whispering, “You are next.”

Brow crime. It’s worse than a felony. It’s worse than my Mandarin skills. It’s even worse than the smog.

(Ok, nothing is worse than the smog.)

But when you run into a brow crime lineup in a dark alley, you do wonder. Do I fit into one of the categories? Am I overplucked, short and thin, or patchy? And if I am, then what? This poster offers no remedy. Sure, there is one girl who made it off the “wanted” list and into the rehab of resurrection, but she had to change race and smile to do so. That’s a kung pao lot of work. That’s not hopeful. Is there any solace offered by this ad or is my fate worse than the rifle ballerinas? At least they made it to a poster without criminal records. Give me political propaganda over fashion prop anyday — I just can’t handle the disaster of my anachronistic beauty habits.  

First, the skyscraper high heels.

Then, my lack of the “sunshine we never see” yellow bike ponchos. 

Now my criminal eyebrows. 

My whole body is illegal, out of date, the opposite of en vogue. This is so unexpected. I came to China to learn the ancient traditions, to paint my name with a cheesy calligraphic pen and cleanse my chi with bad tasting herbs. Screw that. Ancient traditions are ancient. As are my brows apparently. I don’t have time to push hands my morning tai chi — I will miss all the latest fashion trends which pass me faster than a slippery noodle. 

As if the ballerina riflers weren’t enough to kick my feminist prowess into high gear.

Oh China, revamp me. You move faster than I do. Show me how to be a proper woman and I swear I’ll age gracefully. 

Just like a dainty weapon dancer.

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