We are currently in the month of November, which lately has taken on a new name: Movember. Once a year, men are sponsored to grow out their facial hair, to benefit research into prostate cancer as well as other men’s cancers. Movember is a noble exercise that has already raised millions for unquestionably good causes.
That being said, I won’t be growing out my mustache this year, or any year.
Don’t get me wrong: I have in the past and will in the future donate to the good cause of finding a cure for men’s cancers. I just think that a mustache would be too upsetting for my loved ones to look at for thirty days. If it was called Neck-Beard November, I might be in better shape. I, like Eric Clapton, can grow a mighty neck-beard. A mustache, not so much. A few years ago, I attempted a beard as part of a Halloween costume. I was going as the magnificently bearded Luke Wilson from the film The Royal Tenenbaums. I grew that beard out for months, only to be confronted by a patchy, disgusting non-beard come Oct. 31. In desperation, the end result was filled in with makeup. (See below. And please don’t ask if that’s supposed to be Slash with a SARS mask behind me — how would I know, I was facing the wrong way.)
So, if I was to participate in Movember, my narrow, sloping mustache would give me the look of a 1920s grifter. Nobody would trust me, and I wouldn’t blame them.
It goes to show how far facial hair has fallen from the mainstream that sporting some upper-lip hair for thirty days counts as a stunt that requires funding. Tom Selleck didn’t need pledges to proudly sport a ’stache every week for eight years as Magnum P.I. When I was a kid looking at old pictures with my father, I’d ask him why every single man in the ’70s seemed to sport facial hair. He had no idea. Our family’s sprawling collection of old National Geographic magazines (AKA ’80s Internet) told a similar story: at some point, the men pictured stopped having crew cuts and smooth faces and started sporting shaggy manes and scraggly beards. And now they’re gone again.
Where did those go? Look at portraits of US Presidents: for decades, every one of them sported at least mutton chops, if not full-on beards. (Here’s a helpful rundown of presidential whiskers.) At some point, facial hair stopped being a plus and became a minus with the voting public: Thomas E. Dewey’s mustache was cited as a contributing factor in his loss — and that was way back in 1948. Would Obama have lost the election if he was sporting a goatee? (The answer is: Yes.)
As all things are cyclical, I’m sure we’ll see a return to whiskers eventually. People other than firemen and hipster bartenders will start wearing mustaches year-round, and I applaud them. But I will not be joining them.
What do you think? Are you happy with the facial hair Your Man is sporting? Do you wish for more or less?
Paul Beer is a Toronto writer, actor and comedian. You can follow him on Twitter @pauldanielbeer.