My Complicated Relationship With My Unibrow Helped Launch the Beauty Brand of My Dreams

The founder of TooD shares her story.

Childhood Photo

Shari Siadat

TooD, a new, clean beauty brand designed to be ageless, genderless, and multipurpose, was founded by Shari Siadat. Its first launch, a range of metallic Brow Color Creams, wants to normalize all body hair. The creams are meant to be played with and worn how you want to wear it: on baby hairs, across cheeks, swiped over chest hairs...the list goes on. What started out as a passion project for Siadat developed into something bigger that stemmed from a childhood of trauma, lack of self-love, and unibrow that she spent a lifetime trying to hide only for it to become her superpower. Shari shares her journey with Byrdie below. 

I'm 100% Persian. Both my parents are from Iran, but I was born and raised here, and my family is Muslim. So I was an Iranian Muslim growing up in a small town in Massachusetts—literally one of one. There was nothing else out there as far as diversity was concerned. 

My family also has very thick brows. My little sister had a unibrow like myself but she's a lot fairer than me. She has green eyes and my little brother has blue eyes. I'm the darkest one in my family with a unibrow. Because there is little to no representation in the media—even in today's era of "woke" diversity—when you don't have narratives or see images that reflect you, you're made to feel that you have to adapt. I didn't know who Frida Kahlo was. I didn't grow up with that cultural exposure. I always ask myself what would my life have been like if I had known about Frida Kahlo. 

When you don't have narratives or see images that reflect you're made to feel that you have to adapt.

I'll never forget when I was in first grade, there was a girl that lived up the street, who I felt was like my arch-nemesis in the first-grade sense of the word. She was a bit of a bully, but I felt like I was cooler than her. Yes, there was all this weird complex stuff happening in my mind at six-years-old. She would make fun of my skin, my hairiness, and my unibrow to my face. I remember that was the first time that I had felt this metaphorical dagger in my heart. I may have appeared stone cold on the outside, but on the inside, I was just a kid in pain. There was this sea of shame I hadn’t experienced before from an external perspective, and I didn't know how to process it and I was six, so of course, I didn't say anything to my parents.

One day I was at the playground, and her mom drove up in her station wagon. She was all alone and told me to get in the car. I was very kind of taken aback because here's my arch-nemesis’ mother, all alone—she's of Italian descent—and she asked me to get inside her car, so I got in. I’ll never forget—I talked about this in therapy a few months ago—she pulled her entire arm out and placed it next to mine. She said to me, "See, our skin color is not that far apart." It was so fascinating to me because, in that one moment and one statement, a few things crossed my mind: 1) Did her daughter tell her mother about how much she was making fun of me? 2) This sense of the mother needing to cover up for her daughter's ill intent. 3) This feeling of looking at her arm compared to my arm and thinking, "Wait a second. My arm is a lot darker than your arm, and for you to try to think that we're similar is actually stripping away who I am." So, while maybe her intention was a positive one, I found that experience very traumatic for me, and something that only until recently, I even talked about.

From that genesis story of a multi-generational reaction to my skin color, hair and ethnicity, I became a shapeshifter. I had a few harrowing experiences like this throughout my childhood that made me feel tortured inside. I had no outlet to heal them, and when I was 13, I moved to suburban Florida. I felt like the move was an opportunity to redo my identity. Entering the eighth grade, I started tweezing the middle hairs of my unibrow, and as I got into high school, I started using Jolen creme bleach on my mustache. From Jolen, I moved to a product called Zip, which was an at-home waxing kit. I would Zip my mustache away, extending the wax to the corners of my mouth and then I would go underneath my lip to make sure that there was absolutely no hair left. Then at 16, we moved again to New Jersey. I was already lying about my ethnic background and religion, ashamed of my hairy roots. I started to have the thinnest eyebrows possible to cover up any traces of my background. I even started to put Jolen on my eyebrows. The bleach would tone down the intensity and blackness of my brows. In my mind, the color represented anti-whiteness, so I thought that I needed to have a lighter eyebrow color. I went as far as to bleach my arm hair. I'll never forget the day in high school where a boy asked me, "Why do you have blonde hair in your arms and dark hair on your head?"

That journey led me to highlight my hair, shave every single hair off my body, and do laser hair removal in my twenties. My thoughts on hair were so tied to the shame of my ethnicity, negative stigmas, and not being accepted. I know this is true of a few different backgrounds, but for Middle Eastern women, there is sometimes this prudency associated with our hair. When I got married, I doubled down on everything. My weight was added to my ever-growing list of less-than physical attributes. It was one thing with the hair, but then I needed to have a certain aesthetic postpartum. That aesthetic adopted all forms of whiteness and Eurocentric beauty. Everything that I was "prescribed" to be I was doing.

Brow Color Cream
TooD Beauty Brow Color Cream $24
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TooD is my rebirth into actually fully being alive. Prior, I was dead inside and tied to this hamster wheel of expectations of how I should look, feel, act, be seen, or perform. I can’t help but feel like that has a lot to do with patriarchal standards of women in a beauty industry that literally profits off of saying that you have problems and then trying to sell you solutions—and then those solutions only fit one certain way to be. Having my three daughters (and the youngest resembling me so much) was a mirror for me. I saw how effervescent and beautiful she was with her rich, cocoa skin tones, her dark eyes, and eyebrows. Everyone would say she looks so much like me, and I would think, "But she's so beautiful. Why am I not saying that about myself?" At six months, she had a mustache, and I was obsessed with it and wondering why I was bleaching mine all these years. Her mustache is so fly. 

TooD

Cass Bird for TooD

When I decided to grow back my eyebrows, it was really an act to make sure that she doesn't absorb the self-hate that I harbored all this time. I couldn't believe that this deep, dark, shameful secret had so much control over me until I faced it. I can't even imagine going back to having two separated brows. I look at myself with my unibrow as beautiful now, and look at myself the other way and think, "Wow, that person doesn't look comfortable in their skin. That person hasn't self-actualized." It’s been a powerful transition for me growing my unibrow back. Almost two years ago, I filmed a segment for a Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and I got trolled so hard. The comments were so mean: "She's a hairy ape,"  "I can't believe her husband has to sleep with her. She's disgusting," and "What's the big deal? She decided to grow her eyebrows back." I got ripped to shreds, but not a single comment made me feel at any moment that I needed to tweeze my eyebrows or that I was unattractive. In fact, it actually made me feel more confident in my decision. That, to me, is a true evolution in terms of self-love. 

Beauty is non-binary. I can have a unibrow and then decide to get rid of it.

While growing my unibrow back, I would watch the rows of hair come back in, and I remember feeling so uncomfortable but also telling myself, "Don't be attached to an outcome. If you hate it, you can remove it." Beauty is non-binary. I can have a unibrow and then decide to get rid of it. We're living in a world of polarization right now—either you do this, or you do that. That's not what beauty is. Beauty is a choice made at any given moment based on how you feel. I asked myself to feel everything I'm feeling and take inventory of that but not make any rash movements.

My youngest daughter turned six in August. I started to grow my brows out when she was three, so it's been about three years. And then I have two other daughters that are nine and eleven. They don’t just look at TooD as something that their mother is working on—they look at it as a mindset. They're my little ambassadors. They’re all so attached to my eyebrows, too. If they see old photos of me without my unibrow when they were babies in my arms, they’ll say, "Mom looks so weird." To them, my unibrow is the coolest thing. So what I love is that even if TooD doesn't make a dollar, the fact that my children understand what a unibrow signifies is worth everything. 

Shop TooD’s complete offerings, from Brow Color Creams to Turn It On Soap Brows.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.



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