He Said – She Said: Movember
He Said: Savour the ‘Stache
Ronald Storms (3L)
Men who sprout a moustache outside of November are vilified and persecuted. The butt of countless jokes, they are placed in the same category as drivers of windowless white vans and convicts. For fun, I once shaved my beard into a nicely groomed handlebar moustache. The fear and revulsion that I saw in people’s eyes that day was enough to send me straight home to finish the job. I couldn’t imagine trying to go on a date with a moustache, let alone having an articling interview with one.
This is a sad state of affairs, but it wasn’t always this way. In his new book “From the Bismarck to the Flavour Saver: A concise history of the Moustache” U of M historian Chad Sexington recounts the rise and fall of the Moustache. The 1960s and 1970s, writes Sexington, were the apex of the Moustache. It had survived its dark days of World War II villains and reclaimed its rightful place amongst great men: Dr. King, Burgundy, Reynolds, etc. The late moustachioed man of the left, Jack Layton, credits the ‘70s as the formative years for his whiskers. The Layton (Jack’s stache) allowed Mr. Layton to simultaneously project authority, rebelliousness, working-man, and six-pack without even saying a word.
However, as 3rd wave feminism increased the numbers of women in the workplace, the moustache became diminished and socially taboo. Men were made to feel uncomfortable about having a moustache since it was not socially acceptable for their female counterparts. If a slender upper lip shadow was not to be worn by women, it would be unequal for men to wear one at work too (so the thinking went). Thus, the stache became the symbol of the socially uncouth. Men who lived on the fringe of society offering “moustache rides” to anyone passing by.
But the pendulum has swung too far. The very fact that we need a month to be free enough to have a moustache speaks to the problem. Men are confronted daily with reminders about how society expects us to look. It starts shortly after puberty when young boys, initially proud to rock a caterpillar, are berated for sprouting whispy ‘feelers’. Women give the cold shoulder and mothers weep quietly wondering if it’s because they didn’t cut our hair enough as children. The media perpetuates societal pressure by removing all positive moustached male images. Ned Flanders is a dweeb, the news anchor with authority has disappeared, and magazine racks are filled with unstached boy-men. You know what I see when I walk by the magazine rack at Chapters? Justin Bieber.
The right to wear a moustache goes to the core of a person’s identity, regardless of whether that person is a he or a she. It says to the world, “I have hair above my lip. This is how I was born, and I am proud of it.” Supporting a stache in a month other than December says you support a person’s right to live their life as they see fit. Movember has raised the moustache banner high and is marching us out of the bathroom, and into the workplace. I stand with the ‘stache.
The most prevalent way to tell that November is upon us is not by the balmy “fall” weather, not by smashed pumpkins or the Halloween decorations that your lazy neighbour refuses to take down, not even by the looks of sheer stress and panic at the mere mention of the words “call day,” but rather, by the crop of fresh (well some actually not so fresh) mustaches that blossom around us. Yes, that is when N(M)ovember is upon us.
I like the cause behind Movember. I’m all for cancer fundraising and awareness-raising, even when it comes in somewhat tacky packaging. So I would have to say that I am a proponent of Movember in general. It’s when it gets specific that I take issue with the notion – i.e. when my boyfriend turns to me one day in late October and says, “I think I might grow a mustache.” This is where I draw the line. I realize this is hypocritical. I don’t care.
There are some men that look all right with a mustache, even if, albeit, a little creepy (think Matthew McConaughey, Dazed and Confused era). There are others that look pretty good (Ryan Gosling takes the cake). And heck, there are a few that would even look downright wrong without one (think Tom Selleck, especially circa Magnum, P.I.)! Part of the problem with Movember, though, is that men who should never don a mustache go ahead and do just that.
For the regular, everyday guy turned perv, the process usually starts out looking like a BTM. For those of you not in the mustache-lingo know this acronym does not stand for some delicious sort of Subway sandwich; it means “bad teenage mustache.” A BTM is characterized by sparse, thin, randomly sprouting hair. Attractive! The mustache eventually evolves, for some, into a decent, happy little tuft. While hilarious and impressive, it will still be only slightly less disgusting. Many will never evolve past BTM stage.
Last December, my girlfriends and I noticed an interesting phenomenon. At the beginning of the month we noticed that the law fellows looked a little handsomer. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Had the boys been hitting the gym a little harder? Were they less stressed? Getting more sleep? None of those explanations made any sense. Final exams were fast approaching, and there is a direct correlation between people getting grosser and finals getting closer. Finally, I figured it out: the mustaches were gone.
Movember is kitschy. It’s tacky. It gives guys everywhere free reign to use ultra-creepy terms like “mustache ride.” I’m not 100% sure I even know what that means – but no, I do NOT want an explanation from any of you funny guys out there.
Is it a little wrong that I don’t support my own boyfriend sporting a mustache for November? Perhaps. Do I feel that the only way to make up for it might be to force him to run 10km in his skivvies in the “Underwear Affair” with me this June? Probably. But this article isn’t about that. This article is about letting a girlfriend take a nonsensical stand from time to time and proclaim, “Movember? Not in my backyard!”