Trichotillomania: The Real Reason Why I Tattooed My Brows

People often take a look at my eyebrows, and ask if they are tattooed. I reply that they are. Naturally, they follow up with, “Why did you tattoo them?”

Up until now, I’ve always told people that I tattooed my eyebrows for the sake of convenience. That I no longer have to pencil in my brows in the morning. That it saves time.

While those are all valid reasons, they are not the complete truth. To be honest, I’ve always been wary of revealing to others the main reason why I did permanent makeup on my eyebrows, back in senior year of high school.

I’m tired of telling white lies. So here it is: I suffered from trichotillomania. Defined as “a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out body hair.” I was never diagnosed by a professional, but I know I had it, judging from my past behavior.

I was born with thick, full eyebrows. It was not until around sophomore year of high school that I started pulling them out, one by one. My trigger was anxiety. Whenever I’d get stressed, be it over schoolwork or any form of evaluation, I’d find that my hands naturally made it’s way to my eyebrows. And I’d pick at my eyebrow hairs, one by one, until one day, there was nothing left to tug at.

I found a release, when I performed this behavior. It became almost subconscious. I’d be studying hard, head bent over a book, when, all of the sudden, I’d catch myself performing the eyebrow-tugging ritual. Sometimes, I’d spend an hour in the bathroom, just picking out my brows with tweezers. With each hair I tugged out, my stress was diminished. By the time I was done, I’d have only a few sad strands of hair left where my once beautiful brows used to be. And I’d feel devastated and horrified. Then I would vow to myself to let the brows grow back, and never pick at them again. Each morning, I’d have to draw in my eyebrows before school. At school, I had to be careful with touching my face, lest I wish to smear off the makeup.

Tired of having to live the way I did, I did my research, and discovered permanent makeup. A solution to my eyebrow catastrophe! No longer would I have to draw on my brows each morning. At school, I needn’t worry any longer about accidentally rubbing off my eyebrows. It was a solution to my problems!

I’ve had my brows tattooed for over two years now. They have to be retouched from time to time. But otherwise, I have had no qualms about them. I used to be embarrassed when people asked me about my eyebrows, and why there are no natural hairs there. Now, I’m learning how to own up to my past illness and accept it as part of my history.

So there you have it. My deep dark secret. I suffered from trichotillomania for three years. THAT is the real reason why I have my brows tattooed.

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