The landscape of my upbringing—a first-generation Persian-American in a sea of blonde hair and blue eyes—imprinted my understanding of all things beauty, femininity and motherhood. The female figures I saw in the media and my peers who surrounded me all fell in line with a traditional Eurocentric standard of beauty. I believed this image excluded me.

My dark hair and ethnic features (namely my unibrow, mustache, hairy limbs, nose, and tan skin) made me “other,” which was compounded and reinforced by the bullying I endured over my appearance.

This tension, as you can imagine, only increased as I entered puberty. In the '90s, beauty was Kate Moss. Beauty was Nikki Taylor. Beauty was not the Middle Eastern gaze.

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The teenagers I saw on television looked completely different. Despite an occasional storyline that I could relate to, I was unable to fully identify with the American white teen or the Middle Eastern dutiful child. I was both and, also, neither. 

When I was 13, my family moved from our small town in Massachusetts to Florida. I looked at this as a golden opportunity to reinvent myself.

I truly thought, if I could just get those 100 hairs tweezed out from the middle of my face, I stood a chance of being accepted by society.

And so, I did—paving a long path of certainty that in order to be accepted, I needed to erase who I am.

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This led me to make unconscious decisions in adulthood. Decisions to groom and shape myself into something that was unnatural to how I was born. I worked hard at upkeeping my appearance—from lasering and waxing to tweezing. “Thin and hairless” was my daily goal; it's what I felt was required to feel beautiful. What was required to feel human. And this required me to work at erasing who I was so I could create a digestible and acceptable version of myself to the world. One that would reflect the rules that were outlined over how I should be, look and act.

By adulthood, I thought I had the formula of “how to be” figured out. I could have patented it. I got married and quickly had two blonde haired, blue-eyed baby girls. Their blondness fueled my passion to keep my alibi on lock, continuing to erase any sign of my ethnicity. It was a reinforcement to keep going. After all, I had them as proof that I was white-passing.

But motherhood had another plan for me.

I gave birth to my youngest daughter, and she was a replica of my younger self. Her birth and my experience as her mother allowed me to witness her beauty as well as the beauty of my Persian ancestry in a new light. 

It was the mirror I didn't know I needed. 

I reevaluated my grooming habits and the binary way of thinking that I needed to look one way. This spark of consciousness finally started my internal conversation to reclaim my beauty narrative.

A few years later (when my children were 3, 6 and 8), I realized it was now or never. Either I faced the face I was born with or my children didn’t stand a chance of understanding the radical act of self-acceptance, self-love and belonging to self in a society that profits off of my self-hatred. 

As uncomfortable as it made me, I decided to grow back my unibrow so I could understand the relationship that I had to it now as an adult. As a mother. 

courtesy of Shari Siadat

I wanted to show my children that they have the agency to rewild, reclaim, and rewrite their beauty narrative at any point in their lives. 

I knew my only job was to observe what this experiment brought up for me. I also knew I had the choice to tweeze the hairs away. The key here was my personal consent in my actions. I was surprised by what I learned from this experience. 

For starters, my face and my unibrow? Not scary. I couldn’t believe that these 100 hairs had held so much power over me and controlled so many of my actions for 30+ years. I also couldn’t believe how much I had changed from no longer needing to hide my greatest shame in secrecy.

If this one act freed so much for me, what else could be unlocked if others also faced their biggest fears? 

What else could be unlocked for me, if I used this as an entry point to rewire all the narratives and remove the relationships that no longer served this new me?  I was curious, determined and focused to find out.

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That’s what TooD Beauty is all about: the permission to color ourselves free and outside the lines of what we have been told is “beautiful.” And if I consider TooD my fourth child, it’s been an honor to watch it grow as a platform for creation, conversation and exploration, where I, alongside my team, can watch different forms of expression be born.

Courtesy of Shari Siadat

The role of being a mother gave me different lenses at different points in my life when it comes to understanding beauty. It led me to understand the responsibility I have in modeling to my children that I get to choose. I get to choose what beauty looks like, feels like, sounds like… and just because today I think it means having my natural brows does not mean tomorrow it will be the same. 

But the work is hardly done, and as I always remind myself, the only constant in life is change. 

Motherhood allowed me to understand evolution: evolution of body, of self and my connection toward honest dialogue with my children about the socialized systems in which we live.

About the author

Shari Siadat is the founder of TooD Beauty (toodbeauty.com), a beauty brand at the intersection of clean, colorful, and high-performing cosmetics. Find Shari on Instagram at instagram.com/sharisiadat