Meet the Instagram model with the world's most popular unibrow
There are several things that are considered big no-nos by society at large. You could possess all the west's conventional beauty standards - big eyes, high cheekbones, plump lips, with a great figure to boot - but something as simple and natural as facial hair could inspire a vitriol of online abuse. Case in point: Sophia Hadjipanteli, who not only has a luscious mane and striking blue eyes but also a smear of black hair stretched out messily across her brow.
Sophia, known as Instagram's most popular unibrowed model, was thrust into the spotlight after one of her selfies appeared on the app's "explore" page and reached over a million people. The daughter of a Greek father and a British mother, Sophia grew up in Maryland, US, and was a victim of bullying throughout her schooling years. But today, the 21-year-old has graced the pages of Vogue Italia, boasts over 152,000 followers on Instagram, and receives as much praise and support as she does hate mail and harassment.
Speaking to Vice about her unconventional appendage, Sophia said that she was encouraged from a young age to not over-pluck her eyebrows."Growing up, the reason I always paid so much attention to my eyebrows was because my mom would always tell me, ‘do not over pluck your eyebrows—your eyebrows are gorgeous the way they are,'" the model stated.
"In most cases, we kind of look to a certain role model in our lives, and for me it was my mom, and she has really nice eyebrows, so I kind of idolised her in that sense. It wasn't until recently — I think it was about two years ago—I just kind of decided to stop [tweezing them]. I don't think it was anything in particular that happened that made me want to boycott doing my eyebrows, I think it was just a preference thing."
She also explained that she didn't consciously decide to grow out her eyebrows and unibrow. "I was in Cyprus and I wasn't plucking my eyebrows because I didn't really have time—I was always swimming or something," Sophia recalled. However, she quickly came to embrace the extra facial hair after her grandmother told her how "pretty" she looked. "I just left it. I never really thought twice about it until recently when everyone [started making] the biggest deal out of it. That’s kind of the story," she added.
The torrent of online abuse that her unibrow incited was nothing new for the 20-year-old, however. Sophia experienced bullying at school before she even grew out her eyebrows, and as such, she's now "very big on anti-bullying".
"Growing up, me and my brother, we were severely bullied, especially me. From elementary school [I was bullied] for having a foreign dad, to middle school for being chubby, to high school for being different — I was always bullied."
But does she let the negative criticism get to her? Most certainly not. "Definitely take this at face value," she asserted, "but a part of me loves having that control over someone that they get so annoyed and mad. It’s laughable at first".
"A lot of people will say, ‘well how come you groom the rest of your body?’ And I think it’s just a preference thing. I genuinely can’t describe it as anything else."
It's safe to say that Sophia is one of many models helping to redefine beauty standards, and in the filtered and retouched era of Instagram that we live in, having role models like her is imperative.