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Lisa Scottoline: I've solved the case of the missing eyebrows

It's science!

I've solved The Case of the Missing Eyebrows.

I'm Nancy Drew, post-menopause.

We all end up being Nancy Drew, don't we?

We're driving our roadsters through the streets of life, solving mysteries like where we left our cellphone, where we parked our car, or where we put our favorite pair of fleece pants.

You get the idea.

It's all about missing something.

Because we forget.

Some of the missing things matter, so we go looking.

Some of the things don't matter, so we forget about forgetting about it.

And some of the missing things we buy all over again, because we can't remember whether we lost it or never owned it in the first place.

This would be the reason I have four tubs of butter in my refrigerator.

I keep forgetting if I bought it, so I buy it again.

I don't want to run out of butter.

Because I'm on a diet.

You might remember that I've written recently about the fact that  my eyebrows are missing.  Afterwards, several of you wrote me emails telling me you were concerned that I might have low thyroid levels or that I'm overplucking.

Thanks for the thoughts, and I love you back.

So do my eyebrows.

I checked my thyroid levels and they're fine, but I didn't bother checking about overplucking.

I can't remember the last time I plucked my eyebrows.

And not because I can't remember, but because it hasn't been in the last 30 years.

I never cared enough about my eyebrows to pluck them.

They looked normal until they vanished.

I've plucked my chin, but never my eyebrows.

And I've plucked my whiskers, because that's not a good look on anybody but a cat.

So we can put those theories to bed.

I found the answer on my own, having cracked the case like the girl detective.

The answer is science.


I did some research and found an article in Science magazine.

Did you even know there was a Science magazine?

Is there a Math magazine?

Do you care?

I subscribe to People.

I like only what I'm good at.

Anyway, the article makes clear that disappearing eyebrows are definitely due to age, and they're one of the lesser-known signs.

But more precisely, the article says that, "aspects of facial contrast, a measure of how much facial features stand out in the face, decrease with age in women across a variety of ethnic groups."

So that's the villain.

Curse you, facial contrast!

The article said that missing eyebrows were "a cue for perceiving age from the face, even though people are not consciously aware of it."

Bottom line, if your eyebrows are fading away, so are you.

And everybody knows it, you old hag.

Apparently, researchers conducted a study wherein they took pictures of women from four different ethnic groups, then used computer software to generate two versions of the face, one with high contrast and the other with low.  People chose the high-contrast face as the young face almost 80 percent of the time.

So there you have it!

At any given time, 80 percent of the people are raising their eyebrows at your missing ones.

The article suggests that "people could actively modify how old they look by altering how much their facial features stand out, for example, by darkening or coloring their features."

So get out your crayons, ladies!

It's not your face, it's a coloring book.

Everybody's dying their hair pink and blue, so why not your eyebrows?

You can have blue hair and purple eyebrows and orange lips.

Or why not color one eyebrow red and the other green?

You might look crazy, but at least you'll look young.

You want contrast, Science?

We'll give you contrast!

But in truth, I don't think I'll bother.

Eighty percent of the people might dismiss me as a hag, but I'm focusing on the 20 percent who are smarter than that.

The ones who see me, even though I'm fading into the background.

The ones who don't need a blinking neon sign to find a human being.

The ones who value a heart over a face.

And I'm seeing you back.

You'll always count to me, even when others count you out.

Because sometimes, 20 percent can be greater than 80 percent.

That's my kind of math.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's new humor collection, I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool, and Lisa's new Rosato & DiNunzio novel, Exposed, in stores now.