U.S. troops in Afghanistan discover the charms of eyebrow-shaping

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

Here's the latest--if unlikely--grooming craze for U.S. troops at a remote forward operating base in Shinwar, Afghanistan: eyebrow-shaping.

According to the Wall Street Journal's Michael Phillips, Afghan barbers--forbidden from practicing the fine arts of eyebrow-trimming, shaping, plucking and threading on their religiously observant Muslim countrymen--have eagerly added the service for American troops coming in for a hair cut and a shave. Sometimes, as Phillips recounts, the treatment comes as a bit of a shock to U.S. soldiers looking for a no-frills trim.

Private First Class Richard Guillemette's "first brow 'do was an accident," Phillips reported Thursday from the Afghan barbershop near U.S. Cavalry Forward Operating Base Joyce, not far from Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Guillemette had asked the base's Afghan barber, Gulam Farooq, for the usual hair cut and a shave, and realized only "too late ... the barber was ... sculpt[ing] his eyebrows into thin arches, tapering into points at the flanks."

A month later, however "Pfc. Guillemette, a 20-year-old from Lyman, Maine, decided he liked the look, and he has had two touch-ups since then"--rivaling the high-maintenance beauty routines of even many of the most-disciplined civilian counterparts.

However, not every American soldier is on-board with the finer points of eyebrow-shaping. 

"I don't get it, I just don't get it," Lt. Col. Jerry Turner, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment commander tells the WSJ. "And you're not going to get me to get it."

And for the record, not every U.S. service branch seems to be keen on the practice. Marine Corps officials updated the Corps' 2007 regulations to stipulate that "excessive plucking or removal of eyebrows is not authorized, except for medical reasons," Phillips writes.

Nor is this the only unlikely male-grooming trend on the ground in Afghanistan. Photographer Thomas Dworzak has collected a striking series of photographs showing members of the Taliban--notorious for imposing ultra-stringent Islamist dress and grooming codes on subject populations--indulging an unlikely fondness for eyeliner.

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