The Rise And Fall Of The Mustache In America

The Rise And Fall Of The Mustache

For decades the mustache was a sign of power, discipline, and masculinity in America. Like anything else fashionable, though, the mustache has seen wavering support in recent years. It’s a look that proves you can grow facial hair but also says you have the wherewithal and free time to shave your cheeks and neck. In this day and age, the mustache is looked at as a novelty. A joke. Something worn ironically by twenty-somethings in Williamsburg and San Francisco. The mustache used to be fucking cool. Tom Selleck. Burt Reynolds. Richard Petty. Salvador Dali. Titans of their respective industries and revered the world over.

So what happened? How did we go from the mustache being seen as a fashionable choice to frowning upon it like we do the goatee? For me, I’ll always see a goatee and immediately think of an incompetent, dorky boss like David Brent in the BBC’s “The Office.” It’s not fair to people who are probably decent in every sense of the word who wear a goatee, but that’s how I’ll always see it. It seems that anyone under the age of forty who is sporting the aforementioned lip toupeee is mocked, jeered, and made to feel stupid. Forget about respect in the workplace if you’re a millennial with upper-lipholstery. Count yourself decidedly out from getting lucky with that girl across the bar if you’ve got a crumb catcher above your upper lip. That snot mop which would have crushed at any bar in America in the 70s or 80s is now girl repellent.

The mustache is a polarizing fashion statement that I’ve always been interested in. There is a clear division in public opinion on mustaches. Me personally? I’ve always looked at the mustache as something worn by powerful men. In my twenty-five years on this earth, I’ve seen my father without a mustache exactly once. He lost a bet when I was around ten years old and shaved his mustache. It was back in about a week, and that was the last time I saw him without a little bit of fur resting under his nose. So it’s just natural for me that I look at someone with a mustache and immediately respect them. But somewhere along the way we began to hate the mustache almost unanimously. Hate spewed from the mouths of anyone under the age of 30 in regards to the mustache.

I’ve grown a mustache before. I try not to have one during the month of November because I feel like a lemming and most of the people who participate in that little stunt are already awful. I see “Movember” trending on Facebook every year and the guys who can’t help themselves from posting a picture of their furry caterpillar are usually the guys who sign up for “Tough Mudders,” think being a car guy is cool, and listen to a lot of Linkin Park or Florida Georgia Line unironically.

I believe in mustaches. I think the stigma surrounding them is unfair. I’m sure at some point the mustache will have a resurgence. As will the goatee, probably. But I’m sick of the mustache being associated with creepy men in their forties and your drunk uncle. I can understand why many girls are turned off by them. Most fathers who raised girls my age either had a mustache or still have one. The 90s were a happening time for the mustache. The goatee had a nice little run in the 90s as well. Girls in their twenties see a mustache on another twenty-something male suitor, though, and immediately see their dad in their subconscious. No girl wants to be thinking about their dad while having relations with another bar patron. I get that. But maybe give that guy with a mustache a shot, huh ladies? Behind that upper lip hair there’s a human being who wants to treat you with the respect and dignity that you deserve. Or maybe he’s just trying to get in your pants. But there is only one way to find out.

Deciding to grow a mustache is a choice. You need to be committed to it, and it’s tough to stay with it when you’re getting called a pervert and a creep in the workplace or at the bar. The contrast in opinion between men and women when you’re out there in the world with a mustache is nothing short of astonishing. I’m sure someone in a sociology department at a large state school has done a study on this. If not, maybe I will because I’ve never seen anything like it. Take your mustache to a bar anywhere in America this weekend and watch what happens. Random men from corners of the bar that you didn’t know existed will come up to you and shake your hand. They’ll give you words of encouragement and maybe even buy you a drink because of that mustache. I know this will happen because it’s happened to me before. Guys who would normally hate my clean shaven guts because of my outfit or general demeanor see that mustache and are drawn to it like a moth to flame. But the trade off is sick, twisted, and tough to rationalize. Because while you have the respect of anyone in any given bar who also has a penis, you lose any chance with those people we like to call girls with vaginas.

So really, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if getting laid is more important than having a sick mustache that you and all of your buddies think is sweet. I’m a crossroads right now personally. I have nothing at all to lose and I’m going to be growing my mustache back out. I’m not looking for high fives or free drinks at the bar. I just need to switch something up in my life. Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it a cry for help. Call it whatever you want, really. I’m not super sensitive when it comes to comments about my outward appearance. The worst possible thing that could happen is I start getting shut down at bars more than usual, I go home, shave, and then try again. Let’s bring the crumb catcher back to fruition. If everyone starts wearing one again maybe that stigma will fall by the wayside.

Image via Youtube

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Johnny D

fashion icon. @dudaronomy on twitter. e-mail:

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