Model who went viral for her incredible thick unibrow speaks out about body positivity
Society's beauty standards are still as unachievable as ever. You could tick off all the west's conventional indicators of beauty - doe eyes, high cheekbones, Kylie Jenner-esque lips - but something as natural as facial hair is still deemed offensive. Case in point: model, Sophia Hadjipanteli, whose most recognisable feature is a smear of black hair stretched out across her brow.
Sophia, who is arguably Instagram's most popular unibrowed model, was thrust into the spotlight after a selfie appeared on the app's "explore" page and reached over a million people. The daughter of a Greek father and a British model, Sophia grew up in Maryland, USA, where she was bullied throughout her schooling years. But by the age of 22, the model has managed to score appearances in Vogue Italia, and boasts over 286,000 followers on Instagram.
Speaking to Dazed Digital about her divisive facial hair, she said " It’s important to show that preferences and differences are not polarising, but rather unifying and ultimately meant to inspire. To be honest, I’m just out here like everyone else manifesting my own lane and riding my own wave."
She also told the publication that she's starting a hashtag on social media to encourage women to embrace their facial hair - #UnibrowMovement.
"I choose to wear my eyebrows this way for the same reasons I styled myself in school - because the only preference that matters is my own," Sophia continued. "If my childhood taught me anything, it is that I love being different."
The model has previously touched on the abuse she receives online. "When people say it’s disgusting, it’s like what is disgusting about hair on your face, or anywhere?" she told New York Magazine. "You are probably across the world right now, you will never probably see me in your life."
"I think a lot of Middle Eastern people, anyone really, could relate to being hairy and always being told to take it off. I really wanted to push people to look at me and to look at a unibrow that they’ve been conditioned to think was kind of weird or maybe something you should get rid of, for them to still say that I was beautiful."
The trolling that her unibrow incites is nothing new for the 22-year-old, however. Sophia experienced bullying at school before she even grew out her eyebrows, and 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 several models helping to redefine beauty standards, and in the filtered and retouched era of Instagram that we live in, having influencers like her is imperative.