Long Ross, 22, learns how to shape her eyebrows and apply
the right amount of foundation.
Although taking care of one's looks was hardly a priority for most women during the
Khmer Rouge regime, changing times means that both young and old have re-discovered
the art of eyebrow shaping, says Sopar Rendall, director of Cambodia's only modeling
"Eyebrows are the main focus of the face. They can change the face structure
no matter what color eyes you have," says Rendall. "They give a woman the
diva arch look; the arch portrays definition and confidence in a woman's face."
Vann Channy is 76 years old and has long been a practitioner of the art. She says
that perfect eyebrows are part of Cambodian culture.
"Cambodian women like to portray themselves as an 'Apsara' figure," says
Channy. An Apsara represents physical perfection in a woman in Khmer culture. One
aspect of this is the eyebrows.
Channy believes that the shape of the eyebrows still plays a vital role in how women
carry themselves. "The shape is like the arch of a rainbow, although the correct
shape depends on the configuration of the eyes," Channy says. "This arch
allows a woman's natural beauty to shine through."
Rendall says that not only are young Cambodian women concerned about wearing the
right make-up, they believe that bushy eyebrows are embarrassing for proper young
ladies in public.
Model Mao Srey Nei, 26, says she doesn't feel attractive unless she has had her eyebrows
plucked. "My face didn't look pretty when I had grassy eyebrows," Srey
Nei says. "After plucking them, I noticed that the features of my face looked
"If you apply makeup to a face that does not have nicely shaped eyebrows, you
look like you always do - not so different," says Rendall, pointing to Srey
Nei, whose bushy eyebrows she is about to do.
Once she has finished, Rendall suggests a final touch: a light brown pencil to exaggerate
the diva arch.
Round faces, she says, suit a subtle arch, whereas squarer faces look better with
a more rounded arch.
Rendall, who has worked in Cambodia for the past six years, has noticed in that time
some differences in the approach between the ages. Those clients older than 30 come
to her shop to have their eyebrows plucked, while those in their twenties prefer
One such client is 22-year-old Long Ross, who traveled from Battambang province just
to take make-up class at SAPORS so she can start her own business.
"Before joining this class, I didn't know how to apply make-up properly,"
she says. "Now I understand that putting too much white powder on my face makes
me look like a clown."