The Great Razor Debate
E H C A T S U O M by Nicole Elsasser & Zack MacRae graphics by Duncan Day-Myron
gimme a face with hair: a brief introduction to the world of moustaches
f I were to describe my dad to someone who had never met him, after mentioning his beer belly I would probably brag about the majesty of his moustache. I mean, that thing is good. My dad’s moustache has been a constant in my life for as long as I can recall. As a child I remember tugging on it during play ﬁghts, watching him comb it in the mirror after he shaved, and being generally grossed out by the snot-cicles that would form on it when he shoveled the driveway. The legacy of his moustache runs far into the past and is older then I am. In the late 1970s, when the moustache was more common than The Rolling Stones on the radio, my dad, in his senior year of high school entered a moustache growing competition. Although he didn’t win, after the competition he decided to keep it, and as it grew, so did he. Now at age 51 he proudly wears a bushy moustache that has a 32 year long history. Stephen Loo, member of the Movember Foundation, a global not-for-proﬁt charitable organization dedicated to raising money and awareness about prostate cancer has similar recollections of moustached men in his life. “All my uncles and my father had moustaches back in the 80s and 90s, and I grew up thinking that that was the way it was supposed to be; you were a man when you had kids and grew a moustache,” said Loo. The Movember Foundation started in 2003 in Australia when a few friends got together over a couple pints and decided to bring the moustache back in the most meaningful way. They started growing their moustaches, getting sponsors to give them money and moral support for growth. In its short history, the Movember Foundation, which runs the men’s health initiative, Movember, has raised over 51 million dollars world wide and is practiced by thousands.
Men everywhere grow moustaches for diﬀerent reasons. Andrew Townshend, a fourth year student and moustache aﬁcionado at U of G wears his for prestige. “I think moustaches are, ﬁrst and foremost, distinguished, and they deﬁne your face in a very responsible way … [My moustache] is a labour of love.” For Loo it’s simple: “I wear a moustache because I’m trying to help change the face of men’s health and spread awareness about prostate cancer. I also look at it as a tribute to my dad.” Men who participate in Movember are having fun not taking their appearance seriously. These men wear the awareness on their face, and the moustaches act as a kind of conversation piece to spur on discussion about prostate cancer; Loo explained that a Movember moustache is “the hairy ribbon.” The primary goal of the Movember foundation is to spread awareness about men’s health. “I think that men typically do not take their health seriously enough,” said Loo. “Talking about it now, hopefully men will go out and get tested and be on top of things.” Prostate cancer is over 90 per cent curable if detected early. Movember’s main goal is to inform men who feel that the issue is taboo to get out and get tested regularly. Loo explained that if a person still wants to participate in Movember, the month isn’t over yet, and even if they don’t take part, they should grow a moustache simply because they are awesome. “The most amazing thing about Movember,” said Loo, “is that it targets a demographic of people who aren’t normally your average charity sponsor: younger men.” So get informed, get talking and while you’re at it, get a moustache.
The Fellowship of the Moustache
The men who can’t grow hair from their faces
t’s an all-too-familiar story: a young man surrounded by a forest of glorious moustaches but ﬁnding himself unable to grow anything more than a disappointing fuzz above his lip. For some, the coming of Movember means a chance to grow a moustache and engage in a very speciﬁc kind of fellowship with other moustache wearers but for others, it is a month to point out one’s facial hair inadequacies. Eli Winterfeld, a University of Guelph student, knows the pain that comes from being simply unable to grow. “It hurts me inside,” said Whitefeld. “I wish desperately to grow facial hair…[my moustache] is somewhere in between a teenager and a ‘real’ man’s.” Whitefeld may be disappointed at his physical abilities in the moustache-growing department but he has a plan. “I’m just waiting … I’m going to India next semester and I’m not going to shave,” said Whitefeld. “I’m [hopefully] going to have such a big beard.” According to Stephen Loo, an organizer from the Movember Foundation, many men end up sporting less-than-impressive moustaches. “The thing about a moustache is that it takes a while to grow a proper one. In a month, you can’t really do it justice so you look ridiculous no matter what,” said Loo. “That’s what makes it cool and appealing to younger guys especially.” Whitefeld takes another approach when dealing with Movember. “I’m there in spirit,” said Whitefeld. “I really encourage my friends and say ‘hey, your moustache looks great’ and I encourage people to grow it if they don’t have the self-conﬁdence, because I have the [self-conﬁdence], I just don’t have the moustache or facial hair.” For now, that is. Whitefeld is looking toward his hopefully moustache-ﬁlled future with excitement. “It’s good anticipation,” he said. “The year that I can do it, or the year I can grow a full beard, it’s going to be a great year.”
s Abdul R. Chaballout said in a contribution to the online magazine ‘The Art of Manliness’, “When two men meet, bonding prospects are signiﬁcantly enhanced when both tote a well-groomed moustache.” This does indeed seem to be the case, both with young men growing their facial hair for Movember or moustache wearers generally, and a true camaraderie is said to be born from the presence of “the hairy ribbon”. Stephen Loo of the Movember Foundation explains how silly most people look with a less-than-full moustache that creates the bond between men. “[Young men] are just trying to get attention and it is a great way to do it,” said Loo. “Guys come together and bond over it a little bit because you never really know until you grow and you’ve got these guys who just can’t grow [a full moustache] but they try their best…that’s the fun thing.” According to Andrew Townshend, a fourth year English student at the University of Guelph and a proud sporter of a full moustache, there is a certain subtlty that comes from properly participating in this facial hair related comeraderie. “It’s only if we don’t talk about [our moustaches],” said Townshend. “As soon as a person wants to talk about it, I no longer feel associated with them. It’s just a nice thing that you have together and if you talk about it, you’ll ruin it.” Townshend explained that, if you are looking to participate in a kind of moustache fellowship, the best approach is an understated one. “[Give] a nod, a really simple nod, just between the two of you,” said Townshend. “That’s actually how I like to acknowledge most things in common.”
The moustaches of the Rich and famous
Many proclaim the superiority of the straight razor over the disposable ones that are more commercially popular. In an article entitled “Shave Like Your Grandpa” which was written by Brett McKay for The Art of Manliness, he gushed about the beneﬁts of shaving with a straight razor, some of which included a closer shave, reduced overall costs and less environmental impact, not to mention that you feel like a badass. “You’ll be shaving with a tool that can double as a lethal weapon,” said McKay. “Putting razor sharp steel next to your throat every morning reminds you that you’re alive.” This being said, for the last three years, barbershops like
Franco’s and Sons Barber Shop and Hairstyling in Guelph, have not been shaving their customers with the “badass” preferred tool of barbers. According to Paul Figliuzzi, the ban came after a case of hepatitis in the United States that was traced back to an improperly cleaned straight razor. “I think it’s horrible because [barbers] have been giving [straight razor shaves] for hundreds of years,” said Figliuzzi. While getting a shave at a barbershop may have lost a little of its charm without the straight razor, they are still readily available in gentlemen’s grooming supply stores for anyone who is “badass” enough to shave with a lethal weapon.
Caring for your moustache masterpiece Growing an impressive moustache is one thing. Keeping it properly maintained is quite another. It would seem that there is a lot involved in grooming the mane above one’s lip. First, many moustache experts suggest that when starting the growing process, letting your facial hair grow wildly for a while before choosing a shape is wise. The next step is looking carefully at both the way your hair will realistically grow as well as what moustache style may suit your face. If a person is smiling widely, the line from the bottom of the nose outward toward the ends of their lips is the natural line for a moustache and this should be kept in mind when choosing a moustache style. Moustache trimmers will be a necessity when maintaining a
handsome moustache and to take the grooming one step further, many suggest combing moisturizer into the hair to help faciliate a glossy sheen. As far as upkeep is concerned, Paul Figliuzzi at Franco’s and Sons Barbershop & Hairstyling, a Guelph favourite for 43 years, sees a lot of moustaches and explained that grooming them does take upkeep but needn’t be too complicated. “Shampoo [your moustache] just like you would your hair, for one. Constantly comb it so you don’t get the ﬂakes under your nose,” said Figliuzzi. “[Dry] it so the skin under your nose doesn’t stay wet…and really just have fun with it, don’t make it look like that guy beside you.”
The moustache is such a strong, important feature of the digniﬁed man’s face that many men throughout the years have become identiﬁable solely by their ‘staches. These moustaches are more than just a beautiful, lush decoration. They represent the very spirit of their bearers. The thin, gravity-defying moustache of Spanish painter Salvador Dalí is as surreal as the man’s paintings themselves; Clark Gable’s neat, trim lip coif is as slick, charming and handsome as the Silver Screen star’s moves with the dames; Friedrich Nietzsche’s überstache is as dense and impenetrable as The Will to Power, thick and unruly from a mind to preoccupied with its years of furious existential thought to even consider a shave, a trim or a grooming. Sports is also home to a burgeoning moustache fanbase. Baseball has had more than its fair share of hirsute hitters over the years, but none have been quite so fantastic as Rollie Fingers’ ﬂawless waxed and curled tribute to the Victorian gentleman, a moustache that truly worked to but the spectacle but in sports. And where would professional wrestling be without Hulk Hogan’s golden handlebars? One of the 1980s most inspiring icons. And then there’s the verboten moustache. Testament to the overwhelming aesthetic signiﬁcance of a ‘stache, Adolf Hitler has forever tarnished a perfectly acceptable moustache. The thin, square black box adorning an upper lip is now inseparable from genocide, war and severely parted hair. Any eﬀort to try to reappropriate this moustache is still unacceptable. But perhaps one day, the mustachioed masses will, with caution and respect, be able to bring it back. But hopefully they’ll call it the Chaplin.
Figure 3f Figure 1 Moustache royalty, Tom Selleck Figure 2 Memenro of a bygone era of professional moustache grooming
Figure 3 Depictions of celebrated professional moustaches throughout history. a. The Pitcher b. The Philosopher c. The Wrestler d. The Artist e. The Lothario f. The “Muniz” g. The Trebek