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Posted on: February 27th, 2011 No Comments

Listful Thinking — “The prickly problem with facial hair”

Every time I go home for the weekend, I’m forced to confront the fact that my younger brother looks at least five years older than me. The poor kid hit puberty in kindergarten, which has had its advantages (If you ever want to scare a high school boy in a hurry, put your deep-voiced kid brother on the phone and have him pretend to be your dad. Hilarity will ensue).

Unfortunately, his insistence on looking like he’s 30 has also led to some conflicts at home. He is of the opinion that because he’s been able to grow facial hair since birth, it’s his manly duty to do so. He’s wrong, and so are the rest of you stubbly fellas. Mustache March is upon us, but I’m begging you as someone with eyeballs to pick up a razor (or at least consider Manscaped March).

It’s not that I’m against facial hair. In fact, I love it. My childhood was heavily influenced by iconic scruff (Gordon from Sesame Street, Freddie Mercury, Inigo Montoya, etc.), and I think the ideal world would be one in which both men and women could all grow Tom Selleck-esque mustaches on a whim. The final product isn’t the problem – it’s the growing process. If you’re sprouting any kind of facial hair, please don’t come out in public until it’s fully grown in. There should be rules against even attempting it before you’re sure every part of your face is going to cooperate or pitch in to help cover the patchy areas.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hanging out with a guy who suddenly says something about the inch-long, sparse hairs he’s proudly cultivating. Until that moment, I can pretend he’s simply bad at shaving. The second he mentions them, or worse, strokes them, it becomes painfully clear that those sad, long hairs are there on purpose and I start to worry about his vision.

No one rocks the sad, long hairs better than the hipster. I know, I know. It’s cool! It’s ironic! It’s not meant to be taken seriously! When you’re 50 and you’re looking back at pictures of your younger, hipper self, you’re not going to be thinking about how cool and ironic your mustache is. You’re going to be wondering why you thought gluing a dead ferret to your face was a good idea.

If that image didn’t convince you to shave, I’ve got two more words: neck beard.
If the idea of facial hair is to say to the world, “Now I’m a man!” I’m here to say you’re achieving the opposite effect. Those scrawny half-mustaches and beards with commitment issues say one thing: “I’m a boy who may one day appear in a Ke$ha video.” It doesn’t make me want to take you out on Friday night… it makes me want to find you a babysitter.

Once you’re finally grown up enough to rock the ‘stache or the lumberjack look, let me offer one final piece of advice: upkeep. There’s a huge difference between a jungle that may be concealing bits of last week’s steak and small, fierce animals; and classy whiskers that even Jon Hamm would envy. Trim beards are manly. Bushy matted curls are cavemanly.

Unless your five o’clock shadow looks like Indiana Jones’, I don’t want to see it. I promise the look is achievable, because I Googled “high-class facial hair” long into the night and read more Maxim articles than I care to recall. If you can’t grow a beard yet, it’s no big deal. Good things come to those who wait, so own up and stop trying. If anything, that’s manlier.


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