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Fascinating Eyebrow

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"Let's say that I want to portray that I've just done something evil. Well that would be your standard, 'I've got a fish-hook in my eyebrow and I like it'."
Joey Tribbiani, Friends

To portray amused superiority or superior amusement, the arched eyebrow is the best way. It is a prime weapon in the expression arsenal for the Chess Master, Manipulative Bastard, or (in possibly the most famous modern example) The Spock. It's often raised just as the heroes comprehend what the Evil Plan was all about. For instance, finding out that by foiling one objective they helped their enemy achieve a second, the planner will arch an eyebrow as if to say "Suckers!"

Another common and less malicious use of this trope is to depict a character's discomfort or burgeoning confusion; characters tend to raise an eyebrow at something that bemuses or otherwise unsettles them, as if they're halfway towards opening both eyes wide in shock.

This may accompany an Eye Take: the raised brows make room for the widened eyes. And as Expressive Mask shows, even glasses and masks don't get in the way of the eyebrow.


Like rolling one's tongue or performing Spock's other trademark, this is not a talent everyone has. With enough dedication and some practice in a mirror, however, would-be Chess Masters can usually develop the skill.

Combine this with Twinkle Smile and Dreary Half-Lidded Eyes, and you get the Dreamworks Face.


    open/close all folders 

  • Dreamworks' promotional posters do this ALL. THE. TIME. Actually, this applies to a lot of animated companies. The difference, of course, is that Disney, for example, generally limits it to an in-film expression unless it practically defines the character (there's a reason why Buzz Lightyear wears it on his poster and Princess Ariel doesn't, even though they both do it within their films).
    • The Nostalgia Chick's review on the franchise talks about their habit of doing this in great detail.
    • This has been termed The Dreamworks' Face.
    • Although there's an inverse image macro parodying the one linked above making the claim that the same could be said about Pixar. Make of that what you will.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin Series: When Tim is trying to track down a group of Arkham escapees on his own and going through a tough time personally Commissioner Gordon notices something's off with Robin and asks him if everything's alright. He raises a disbelieving eyebrow to Robin's curt "everything's fine" response.
  • Superboy Kal-El/Conner Kent was prone to raising an eyebrow while mocking his supervillians, and tipping down his glasses to raise an eyebrow at his friends when he thought they were saying something ridiculous or wanted to show he was paying attention. Heck he can be seen with this expression in at least two places on this very wiki.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Subverted with Usagi's seemingly-permanent arched left eyebrow. It's actually a scar from a duel, but it really helps with his Death Glare.

  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: If you tried to count the number of times the author used "quirked a brow" in the story while playing a Drinking Game, you would black out.
  • A few times in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, like Haruhi when Mikuru said her going to see a movie with Kyon wasn't a date before countering she saw both of them kissing.
  • In the The Game of Thrones fanfic A Ballad of the Dragon and She-Wolf, Daenerys is described as having a highly expressive face with many dramatic eyebrow gestures, which the author says was modeled after her actress Emilia Clarke.
  • Child of the Storm has this regularly, adopting from The Dresden Files the habit of referring to it as 'spocking' an eyebrow.
  • A running joke in Mad World is of Zack trying, and failing, to copy Sephiroth's automatic eyebrow raise. Turns out to be a family trait - Vincent and Yazoo can do it too.
  • "Gabriel gave Michael the highest raised eyebrow the latter had ever seen, much less received. He vaguely wondered if it had its own gravitational pull."
  • Too many fanfics to count take Gaius's Fascinating Eyebrow Up to Eleven.
  • The Killer Dame, a Star Trek: Voyager parody by Odon. Tuvok and Seven of Nine, both skilled practitioners of the Fascinating Eyebrow, use this as a means of communication when they're tied up by Hirogen captors.
    The young Borg realised that Tuvok was inquiring if she was all right. Seven quirked her ocular implant in reply, conveying that such a question was irrelevant and she was currently trying to free her bonds. Tuvok raised his other eyebrow, conveying his disapproval at the emotion of arrogance that might distract one from the task at hand. Seven answered with a scowl, conveying that she was experiencing some difficulty with the knots but she was Borg and would adapt, and that she would be as arrogant as she wished thank you! Tuvok took a deep breath, dropped his eyebrows to normal level, then raised first the right brow, then the left brow, then both brows together, then the left, then the right brow, two raises of the left again, then a wiggle of his pointed ears, then a slight twitch of his right brow again, and last of all a final poetic dance of supercilious motion by the two hairy arches.
  • Comes up a lot in The Twilight Child.
    • Princess Celestia does it to her sister at one point, earning a rebuke.
    • A paper-pusher Rainbow Dash is hassling does it, with the narration mentioning that most Equestrian bureaucrats learn this sooner or later.
    • At one point Rainbow Dash herself does it, which shuts the main character up mid-rant. As she notes to herself, when Rainbow Dash is raising an eyebrow, it's time to stop what you're doing.
  • MasakoX, co-creator of Naruto: The Abridged Series and anime reviewer at That Guy with the Glasses, does this very often. Observe.
  • In the Parody Fic "Farce Contact", on discovering Captain Archer can suddenly speak Vulcan, T'Pol raises her eyebrow so much it tears under the strain.
  • Much Ado About Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won: Archie often acts with his eyebrows, according to the script and the narrator (the fic is in part written like a theatre script and in part it is a regular narrative form). Archie and Horatio bet that Archie must only speak in Shakespeare's quotations. In case Horatio doesn't quite catch his meaning, Archie uses significant looks. Archie raises an eyebrow at the hat shop when he wants to signal that one hat is a no-no, or he "waggles" his eyebrows when he's drunk at the inn. When they really talk in their shared room, he raises his eyebrow inquisitively, then skeptically and finally he cocks his eyebrow at his friend, too.

    Film — Animation 
  • Rather common in many CGI-animated promotional pictures, to show that computer-made characters can also pull off humanlike expressions. Elsa is one good example. The trope is particularly common for Dreamworks Animation's promotional material, to the point where a raised eyebrow and smirk is typically dubbed "the Dreamworks face" online.
  • In Megamind and the Button of Doom, Mega mind does this to his gigantic robot double (the Mega-Megamind) in conjunction with I Shall Taunt You.
    Megamind: Do you feel the taunting power of my eyebrow?
    MMM: (firing an explosive) How dare you brow me!
  • The Sorcerer Yensid did this at the end of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in Fantasia. The expression was based on Walt Disney himself.
  • At the end of A Goofy Movie, Roxanne pulls this on Max when she becomes suspicious that he's lying to her again.
  • Maui from Moana sports one. No surprise given he's voiced by Dwayne Johnson.
  • In Superman Unbound Brainiac wanders over to the bottle containing the miniaturized Metropolis as he pontificates to Superman about how unimpressive Earth is. He leans over and notices Lois Lane flipping both birds at him. Brainiac arches an eyebrow before turning away, but at least Lois made him shut up for a second.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Matrix Reloaded: The Merovingian, when Neo blocks a sword with his bare hand during the chateau fight.

  • Vetinari of Discworld fame often used the Fascinating Eyebrow along with a finishing blow in a verbal power struggle to make sure the opponent knows he's been defeated. This is highlighted in Making Money, wherein Cosmo Lavish, one of the antagonists, actually practices raising one eyebrow in front of a mirror in an attempt to emulate the Patrician. What's worse, Cosmo couldn't actually raise his eyebrow on his own. He has to rely on a small mechanical device to raise his eyebrow for him. There is a small asylum dedicated to people who think they are Vetinari. They have eyebrow-raising competitions.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden sometimes does this, referring to it as "Spocking an eyebrow".
  • The bread and butter of all female characters in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Along with sniffing and (if they're Siuan Sanche) snorting.
  • "Two-Bit" Matthews was a frequent user of the Fascinating Eyebrow in the novel The Outsiders. Ponyboy, the main character, tries to imitate this trick without success.
  • Timothy Zahn likes reminding people that Grand Admiral Thrawn in The Thrawn Trilogy can cock his eyebrows. It's an Author Catchphrase.
  • The protagonist of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. can raise one eyebrow and does it occasionally to get adults to stop asking her questions. She doesn't know why it has that effect, but it does.
  • Snape from Harry Potter, in both the books and films.
  • Vampires in The Hollows either gain this ability upon infection, or they all practice it because it looks so cool. Either way, Rachel is jealous.
  • In the Trainspotting novel Mark Renton envies Sick Boy's ability to raise one eyebrow, going so far as to wonder if that is the true secret behind being The Pornomancer.
  • The Queen's Thief LOVES this trope. Not only is the main character a master of this art, so is his love interest.
  • Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice has a fascinating eyebrow that has a tendency to rise when she comes across things she finds particularly ridiculous or wryly amusing. It's one of the many pride things going on.
  • In Chrome Circle by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Tannim's mentor, a dragon currently wearing human form, arrived (magically) in response to a call for aid and "raised one long eyebrow at Tannim in a gesture that Tannim knew perfectly well had been copied after long study of Leonard Nimoy."
  • In The Mortal Instruments, Clary is annoyed when Jace does this at her, because it is an ability she has always envied. She gets even more annoyed when Magnus Bane turns out to be able to do it too.
  • During Galaxy of Fear a rather absurd suggestion is made, and Hoole raises an eyebrow. Tash thinks that "it was as close as her stone-faced uncle would ever get to looking surprised."
  • In "Royal Flash" Flashman has to impersonate a royal who has this Character Tic, and is driven to strange facial twitching while trying to rehearse it. Eventually the conspirators give up and just hope no-one notices his eyebrows go up in unison.
  • This expression is very common whenever a historical figure does something odd in Horrible Histories, where another figure in the illustrations cocks an eyebrow up in the classic fascinating eyebrow style.
  • A Rising Thunder: One Beowulfan politician is noted to have spent years teaching himself how to do this. His wife claims he didn't have anything useful to learn while he was in the military and fell back on the eyebrow, but as a politician it's become a handy expression.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Despite lacking eyebrows (or flesh), Sid the skeleton is somehow able to give off the impression that he's doing this, as seen in book 2.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Amazing Race Host Phil Keoghan does this all the time, usually in the midst of a Dramatic Pause.
  • Angel. In "That Vision Thing", Angel has to free someone from a prison dimension, which turns out to be guarded by a ferocious-looking yet amiable demon called Skip. Before they start giving each other the Nothing Personal speech followed by a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, the two share some amusing eyebrow movements as they wordlessly assess each other.
  • In an episode of Babylon 5, Ivonova pulls one off when she inadvertently walks in (via holographic projection) on the Political Officer trying to seduce Sheridan.
  • Doctor Who:
    • David Tennant's Doctor tends to do this a lot, to the point where someone made a parody tribute about his left eyebrow.
      • "Smith and Jones" has him use it as a wordless response when Martha asks him why he's trying to avoid being scanned by the Judoon, in this instance indicating to her that he's not human, although she doesn't immediately buy it.
    • The very first glimpse the world got of the Twelfth Doctor was an extreme closeup dominated by his eyebrows. Later, the Doctor referred to them as "attack eyebrows".
  • Drop the Dead Donkey. News reporter Damien Day does this when he's forced to say, "It was then that the fickle finger of fate flicking through his London A to Z picked out this sleepy little post office in Dalston" for Gus Hedge's new Crimewatch program.
  • The Flash (2014): It's sometimes not that noticeable due to being partially hidden by his glasses, but Dr Harrison Wells is prone to raising one eyebrow when amused, skeptical or curious. He does it with both, but can raise one much higher than the other. Whenever he takes his glasses off (particularly after his true identity as the Reverse Flash is revealed and he stops wearing them altogether), his fondness for this particular expression becomes much more obvious.
  • Game of Thrones: At times, Daenerys' eyebrows express what she really feels.
  • Puck from Glee has a habit of this as well.
    • Finn does the same thing, albeit more out of confusion than anything. As does Quinn.
  • Angus Deayton's eyebrow soon gained a fan following in its own right on Have I Got News for You. Paul Merton mocked it a lot.
  • Heroes: Sylar, especially since Zachary Quinto's eyebrows are so prominent. In the episode "Five Years Gone", when Sylar is using an illusion to disguise himself as Nathan Petrelli, who is president, Zach recorded Nathan's lines so that Adrian Pasdar would know how to say them, but the episode got to a point where Sylar!Nathan cocks his head to the side and stares at Mohinder, but it didn't look right because this trope was missing, since Adrian Pasdar can't cock his eyebrow like that.
  • House: Foreman. It's never a real challenge to get Bingo.
  • iCarly: Freddie can do this. Using it more often on Carly probably would've helped him seduce her by now.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves does this quite frequently. Of course, he is played by Stephen Fry.
  • Marcus from Lab Rats does this a lot, most likely hinting his sneaky nature.
  • Gaius, from Merlin, to a positively ridiculous degree.
    • Arthur gets in a few good ones, too.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl usually does this when going into thoughts, usually followed by Earl narrating what he did next in that episode. It is actually referred to by characters on the show some times.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Moze can do this.
  • In the second series of Red Dwarf, Rimmer does an amazing variant on this when he bites into the Triple-fried-egg-chilli-chutney-sandwich.
  • When Lucius Vorenus of Rome does this, you KNOW something is about to go down.
  • SCTV has Joe Flaherty rocking the eyebrow with some particularly weaselly characters.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Teal'c and the eyebrow are virtually legendary, typically whenever he learns about a new bit of Tau'ri oddity, often accompanied by him saying "Indeed."
    • The hundredth episode special featured a Show Within a Show version of Teal'c whose actor (or rather the fake actor playing the fake Teal'c on Wormhole X-Treme and being played by a real actor on SG-1) apparently couldn't pull off the Eyebrow. There's a shot of him being assisted by a piece of string taped to his face.
  • Star Trek:
    • Spock (the Trope Namer) popularized the Fascinating Eyebrow amongst fans, though it rarely denoted amusement. Such an emotional response would be... illogical. According to Kirk, it "usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance".
      Spock Fascinating. [cue eyebrow... though sometimes he arches them before saying it.]
    • Helped somewhat by makeup. Probably to help give him an "alien" look, Spock's eyebrows are arched more than is typical (where the eyebrows follow the supraorbital ridge). Depending on the episode/movie, they can be anywhere from "rather highly arched" to "the peak practically disappears into his hairline even when he's not raising them." Since the forehead is more mobile than the brow ridge itself, this amplifies the effect.
    • McCoy does it on occasion as well, more often in the reboot films since Karl Urban is fully able to pull it off.
    • Uhura's Song, an Expanded Universe novel, had other crewmembers commenting on this tendency. "Eyebrow on stun, Mr. Spock!"
    • Another novel, Vulcan's Forge, has a now-Captain Spock noting his awareness that some of his crew use this phrase amongst themselves.
    • And another Expanded Universe novel involves Sulu, Chekov, and a random engineer doing an impression of a typical Kirk/Spock/McCoy interaction, complete with Chekov attempting and failing to raise one eyebrow.
    • The Expanded Universe novel Crossover had Spock give McCoy the eyebrow, with McCoy Lampshading the event:
      McCoy: Don't you give me that eyebrow!
    • Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager would arc her ocular implant when the occasion required. Of course, said implant is always in this position so it'd be hard not to. She even fought Dwayne Johnson in a Forced Prize Fight episode, with The Rock doing his famous eyebrow flick to the audience, though we don't witness any eyebrow-to-eyebrow combat with Seven.
    • The Doctor from the same series is a master of it.
    • Data from TNG, although being an emotionless android, had his share of Fascinating Eyebrow moments.
    • Captain Picard also did this a few times. In his Nitpicker's Guide series author Phil Farrand jokes that this is a result of his mind-meld with Spock's father Sarek. Vulcans all over Trek are masters at the Fascinating Eyebrow.
    • T'pol from Star Trek: Enterprise being Vulcan did ths a fair bit.
    • In the novel Well of Souls, Talma Pren (a Human) can’t do it, but Vaavek (a Vulcan) can. Talma muses that all Vulcans seem capable of doing so.
  • Supernatural has the Trickster/archangel Gabriel do this a lot just before he dumps the Winchesters into something particularly nasty (possibly because Richard Speight Jr, who plays him, has the amazing habit of doing it.)
  • The X-Files:
    • Fascinating Eyebrow is one of Agent Scully's trademarks. She would usually eye down Mulder for his crazy theories. It was known among fans simply as "the look".
    • The Stupendous Yappi who appeared most prominently in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" is a Phony Psychic or Not-So-Phony Psychic; which one depends really on your interpretation. His eyebrow raise might be considered Exaggerated version. Interestingly, his look was intended to Agent Mulder who for once did not buy his seer routine and thought him a fake.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Rock brought the eyebrow to the people.
    • Parodied twice by Triple H (during his days as leader of D-Generation X) when he dressed up like The Rock in order to mock him: first was when the former was leading The Nation, by painting on an exaggerated eyebrow in pencil; then later during the feud with The Corporation, by slapping what looks like a strip of black tape.
    • Possibly the Trope Codifier? It is the PEOPLE'S eyebrow, after all.
  • The heir to the Rock's eyebrow has got to be Bobby Fish. Utilizes it in many promo shots and frequently his ring entrance as well.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft has a predefined emote for this (/eyebrow), although it is not animated.
  • The Sims from The Sims 2 does this when dancing. There's a bug that they could have this face even when they're not dancing.
  • Shepard of Mass Effect seems to do this a lot.
    • Legion also does this during his introductory cutscene. He explains the Geth designed his platform specifical to interact with organic lifeforms, so his eye-flaps move to simulate facial expressions.
    • Legion also does this when you tell the customs officer that the two asari are not Geth because they don't have flashlights in their heads.
  • Deadly Premonition opens with Francis York Morgan being in the Red Room, surrounded by its odd atmosphere and creepy music, items that have more significance than one thinks and the twins Issac and Isaiah as angels talking to each other. He quirks this eyebrow to this odd scene.
  • Mega Man (Classic): Dr. Wily has turned this taunt into a running gag, though he also combines it with a weird sort of eyebrow-wiggle.
  • Mr. House of Fallout: New Vegas is doing this on the picture displayed on his monitor. Since said picture is static, it means he's constantly making this expression.
  • In Disco Elysium The Player Character's Consummate Professional partner, Kim Kitsuragi, is a master of this. Any time he is faced with someone doing something that annoys him, he tends use flash this expression and its usual enough to make anyone back down. Upon being faced with this, the player's Authority skill makes a note of how Kim's own Authority skill must be off the charts.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, every character does this when they are confused.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "The Last Gingerbread House on the Left", one of the competitors in Mr. Fischoeder's gingerbread house-building contest is "Downtown" Randolph Brackenbrow. He apparently has a "medical thing" where his right eyebrow raises itself involuntarily when he's in "fierce competition mode".
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenhole Jim Belushi desperately tries to imitate John's trademark arched eyebrow to the point of tying a balloon to it.
  • Johnny Bravo uses it when scoping out babes, or whenever the events around him confuse him. Considering the likelihood of either one, it's a wonder his eyebrows are ever down at all.
  • Used many times in Avatar: The Last Airbender, mainly by Katara.
  • The Legend of Korra: It must run in the family since her granddaughter Jinora has one when she sees Asami putting her hand on Korra. Evidently, she saw the subtext that was brewing between the two.
  • Several character use this on Total Drama, the most prominent example being Noah who has this as his default expression. Even while asleep.
  • Part and parcel with the more dynamic and emotive designs of Transformers Animated, and not just the humans, either. Ratchet has some excellent ones when trying to understand the younger members of the team, and even Prowl with his highway patrol shades gets in one or two Fascinating Optic Ridge moments, to humorous effect.
  • In Transformers: Prime, with the somewhat more emotive movie-based altmodes, Optimus Prime does this, when Miko and Raf lie to him about Bots being involved in street racing.
  • Used one time by a car dealer on Futurama upon Amy mentioning how rich her parents were. He had to physically restrain it.
  • In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor did quite an impressive version of this when Power Girl walked into his office with "something to talk about." Given that Power Girl, is, erm, powerful even by DC's standards, one can't help but be suspicious of his intentions.
  • In Fireman Sam, Station Master Steele's face appears to be stuck this way.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Celestia does this near the end of "Lesson Zero", as Twilight's friends are taking the blame for her casting a spell that makes the entire town fight over a doll so that she could learn some sort of lesson about friendship to send her for that week.
    • Octavia, one of the many fan-favorite background characters, pulls this expression in "The Best Night Ever" when Pinkie makes a request. Even her wiki page uses it.
    • Well, well, well. It seems we have some neigh-sayers among the Tropers! Even if Celestia and Octavia can pull off the Fascinating Eyebrow, the fact remains that THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE can do it better! In fact, she does it at least one time other than during her episode.
    • Applejack has a pretty good one as of season 4, episode "Three's a Crowd", showing her suspicions at Discord's antics. She pulls it again on Rarity two more times in "Trade Ya!" and "Made in Manehattan".
    • Owlowiscious' design doesn't really allow for much of one, but in "Inspiration Manifestation" he's definitely giving the same spirit in his look at Spike when Rarity starts going off the deep end.
    • Fluttershy gives a good one in "Dungeons & Discords" when Discord tries to keep her from leaving by having the train tracks going into an active volcano he created. And it works like a charm. Discord undoes his spell immediately afterwards.
  • Reducto in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (voiced by Stephen Colbert) does this in an early episode, complete with inner monologue lampshading that he's doing it.
    Reducto: I'm scheming. This is my scheming face. First I raise this eyebrow, and then — BACK OFF!
  • Raven does this in Teen Titans when in response to wondering why her teammates, sans Robin, were pretending to be Robin, Beast Boy retorts, "You know you wanna try it."

    Real Life 
  • Walt Disney, especially when looking over the work of his animators.
  • Comedian Andy Hamilton complains that he can't get his eyebrow not to do this, so everyone always thinks he's being sarcastic.
  • Much of the appeal of British newsreader Fiona Bruce is her perpetually cocked eyebrow.
  • British newsreader George Aligiah likewise seems to have his eyebrow fixed into this position.
  • Football manager Carlo Ancelotti does this whenever interviewed, to hilarious effect.
  • Hugh Dennis. It appears that one of his eyebrows just naturally sits about a centimetre above the other.
  • Kylie Minogue. Her right eyebrow is naturally higher than the other, but it's become more obvious in recent years due to her admission to using Botox.
  • Gary Barlow. Not only is his right eyebrow higher than the other, it sometimes seems to have a life of its own.
  • Elton John has animated eyebrows when singing.
  • J. R. Martinez's left eyebrow has been frozen in this position ever since his hummer blew up while serving in the Middle East.
  • Makeup is sometimes employed to give eyebrows a rather more pronounced arch than is natural. Done well, this puts the peak of the eyebrow on the (more mobile and therefore more expressive) forehead instead of along the supraorbital ridge without being too noticeable. Done poorly, the person appears as if they are in a constant state of open-eyed wonderment. As far as glamour makeup goes, it's more common on women who learned their makeup techniques at a time when the very thin extremely high arch was "in". Women who started using makeup in the late 1960s or later tend to go for a more "natural" look. On stage it's used to allow subtle changes of expression to be seen easily even in the "cheap seats".
  • Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode frequently does this during interviews. So often that lead singer, Dave Gahan, mentioned that he raises his left eyebrow when he's excited and his right when depressed.
  • Pedro Pascal often does this at photoshoots and interviews.


Video Example(s):


BB - Fierce Competition Mode

In Season 7 "The Last Gingerbread House on the Left", Bob meets "Downtown" Randolph Brackenbrown, who's really arching his eyebrow.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FascinatingEyebrow

Media sources:

Main / FascinatingEyebrow