Monday 25 March 2013

Handlebar, Toothbrush or Walrus

All the men in my life are clean shaven:  my husband, my son, my Dad, my father-in-law, my brother.  And that's the way I prefer it.  However, some women love moustaches.  And some famous people in history have been identified by their moustache.  Here is a bit of its history.

Moustache comes from "moustacio" a 14th Century Italian word.  Razors date back even further to Neolithic times when men used stone versions to trim their facial hair.  Over the course of time, moustaches have symbolized different thing:  they are a sign of power in 20th Century Arab countries.  Beards are a sign of traditionalism in Islamic countries.

When are men first able to grow a moustache and/or beard?  As early as 11 years of age, peach fuzz appears at the corners of the upper lip.  By 16, hair usually covers the entire upper lip.  By 17, some teenagers can grow a bear; others must wait until 21.  Some men grow fuller moustaches and/or beards than other men.

Various accoutrements have been invented to help men groom their moustaches and/or beards:  moustache wax, moustache nets, brushes, combs and scissors.  More recently, moustache transplants have become available for those men with sparse upper lip hair.

Different types of moustaches have appeared throughout history:  Hungarian, Dali, English, Imperial, Fu Manchu, Pancho Villa, handlebar, horseshoe, pencil, chevron, toothbrush and walrus.

Some famous historical figures are identified by their facial hair.  Salvador Dali had a thin pencil moustache that he twisted at the ends.  Adolf Hitler had a short toothbrush moustache as did Charlie Chaplin.  Mark Spitz, who won several gold medals in the pool at the 1972 Olympics, insisted on sporting a moustache even though it was believed that body hair slowed swimmers down.  Tom Selleck wore a moustache during his run on Magnum P.I.

In November more and more men are growing moustaches to support prostate cancer victims.  However, as  someone pointed out, those same men are not getting prostate exams, which is the point of the exercise.

Regardless of whether you like moustaches and/or beards, they are here to stay.  And they make a great conversation piece.

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