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Crucial Update

The Story of the New Millennium As Told Through Beyonce's Eyebrows

If eyebrows are the window to the soul, then Beyoncé's eyebrows are the window the American collective consciousness. Here now, with help from Wink Brow Bar’s Founder Umbreen Sheikh, is the definitive Beyoncé eyebrow timeline, a document that spins the story of the 2000s with startling precision, not a hair loose.

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1998

Beyonce's arched eyebrows, thinned towards the end, were "so on-trend" for 1998, according to Sheikh. The cringingly appropriated bindi placed between Beyoncé's brows–a fad in the late 1990s oft-attributed to Gwen Stefani–paired with a silver lamé brocade dress reflect a smaller, more insular, pre-9/11 America. LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Robertson were still part of Destiny's Child. Beyoncé's brand, like all of our brands, and Beyoncé's eyebrows, like all of our eyebrows, had yet to be honed with exacting detail on Tumblr. And yet, the world still spun on its axis.

2001

"Here," said Sheikh, "Beyoncé is still rocking the thinner, arched brow look of the early ‘00s." Beyoncé's raised brows, particularly on the left brow, signal wryly that she has a master plan for the new millennium, even if the rest of us were still stumbling and groping our way into the early aughts.

No longer able to take solace in our Y2K contingency plans, the nation turned to Beyoncé. In 2001, "Independent Woman"  was at the top of the charts and we all thought, "This is literally my jam" in whatever the parlance was in those days.

2003

2003 was the year of Beyoncé's first solo album, "Dangerously in Love." Accordingly, her eyebrows became bolder, wilder, and more daring (The left one, I've nicknamed Bonnie, the right one, Clyde). Sheikh calls this era The Reign of the Beyoncé Power Brow. "Her brows have gone under a wonderful transformation," said Sheikh, "adding a youthfulness to her face as it helps to incorporate fullness to sharp features."

This same year ushered in an epoch of unconventional grooming and we have Beyoncé's brow to thank and nothing else. It was all Bey's brows. They weren't always the right style decisions–mustaches, fedoras resting atop faux-hawks, etc.–but they had a point of view.

2005

2005 was a tumultuous one for our country: New Orleans was left in peril after Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush took on his second term, and everyone was wearing cropped shrug sweaters. Beyoncé was not immune, for she had not yet ascended to Queen B status. "Here, Beyonce is sporting a thinner version of her 2003 brows–a mashup of late ‘90s and early ‘00s looks. A pencil was likely used for this look," said Sheikh. The Reign of the Beyoncé Power Brow had ended, and we all wrestled with what to do next. Amid so much national strife, all we could do was hope for a better tomorrow, next week, next year. We hoped for a better Beyoncé.

2007

Patience really is a virtue, for 2007 brought long-awaited victory to many Americans at the time: Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House after 110 sessions of Congress, and Beyoncé began growing out her eyebrows. "This is a favorite of mine," said Sheikh, "Look at how lovely they are, with a soft, yet natural arch." Beyoncé's full brows encouraged millions of Americans to put down the tweezers and beg their moms for tickets to The Beyoncé Experience.

2009

The late aughts unleashed unforetold power and influence to a younger, less conservative generation: Barack Obama became America's first black president, and we all became emboldened to wear formal shorts (at prom, even). Beyoncé fully came into her own, her self-possession on full display in 2009's "Ego." Beyoncé had a big ego and luscious brows. "Strong, powerful and dark brows," said Sheikh, "Here, Beyonce's brows are groomed to perfection, likely the use of a great powder." America had reached a turning point, and whether it was a direct result of Beyoncé's fully grown-out brows, nobody can say for sure. (It was 100% the brows.)

2012

Beyoncé didn't release any tracks in 2012, but she didn't fall out of the public eye: This was the year Beyoncé, along with First Gentleman Mr. Shawn Jay-Z Carter, got political. In an election year fraught with men discussing topics like "binders full of women" with other men, America needed a strong female force like Beyoncé working it in the pop music, political, and beauty arenas. Beyoncé came out with a bold, authoritative brow, rather than a pantsuit. "In 2012, Beyonce went for a deeper and bolder color," said Sheikh, "Here, her brows are perfectly defined with not a stray hair out of place."

2014

"This brow requires precision and maintenance," said Sheikh–two words that came to define Beyoncé as she expertly dropped a surreptitious fifth album album on a cold, lonely December night in 2013. As the world dissolved into chaos–Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine and an Ebola outbreak in Guinea killed 49 people, Gamergate tormented women on the internet–we looked for order. We found that in Beyoncé's brows. We followed suit, quietly beginning to pencil and powder in our brows for an hour every morning, pretending to just have woken up like this. It was a tenuous lie, but a necessary one.

2015

Summer 2015 has been rife with optimism, opportunity, and backless rompers after a long, cold, challenging winter. We're getting out of our collective slump with making definitive statements, ditching gendered pronouns, and fearless personal grooming. Beyoncé, never an exception, is the rule to follow: "The brow look to beat them all! Here, Beyonce's brows are polished, groomed and nary a stray hair out of place," said Sheikh. "Her brows reflect today's trends calling for a fuller, bolder brow." We may be all be chafing and missing Zayn, but we have hope, our eyebrows, and Beyoncé's back catalogue, and that's all we'll ever need.

Claire Carusillo lives in a bedroom in New York City. Follow @clocarus for an open discussion of books, bread, and eyebrows.