Why the ‘stache?

As a female, I lack the ability to grow a moustache. No, not that bit of fine hair that women have along their lip. Not even if that lip hair is of the darker variety. What I’m talking about is a serious ‘stache, the kind that grows thick and lush and comes to rest just above the mouth. Your upper lip’s best friend and neighbour to your nose.

Quite frankly though, I have no desire to grow a ‘stache of my own. Rather, I am fascinated by the male celebration of the moustache and the many forms it can take.

My interest with this particular male behaviour was recently piqued when my boyfriend decided he would grow a moustache. He put off shaving for a few weeks until just recently when he decided it was finally time. One razor and ten minutes later, my boyfriend was sporting his very own ‘stache. One of the horseshoe variety I would later learn. When he finally emerged from the bathroom in all his moustache glory, I was skeptical to say the least.

His brother, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more thrilled. Many high fives were to be had while the two discussed its level of “badassness.” The moustache and my boyfriend were imagined in a variety of fitting scenarios — back alley fights, cowboy hat sporting, pick-up driving and the like. The two agreed that, with this moustache, my boyfriend would be the envy of all his male coworkers the next day. I, however, rolled my eyes and secretly hoped that the moustache would only be making a brief appearance.

Its ability to generate excitement is not limited to my boyfriend and his brother. A single Google search will yield over 6.7 million results for the word ‘moustache.’ There are even entire organizations — of both the serious and ironic variety — whose entire existence is based on the moustache. As stated on its website, the American Moustache Institute (AMI) works to protect “the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, moustached Americans by promoting the growth, care, and culture of the moustache.”

No, moustache hysteria knows no bounds, affecting countless men across the globe. This notion is reinforced by the existence of the World Beard and Moustache Championships. According to its website, this championship has been held across Europe and the United States since the 1990s. For years, men from around the world have entered this championship to strut some of the most elaborate moustaches there ever were.

Delving further into the subject of moustaches, I have learned that there are dozens of ways one could style their moustache. These variations far outnumber the ways in which I can think to style the hair on my head — which has significantly more hair than any man could expect to grow on his upper lip. Some of the more familiar styles include the horseshoe, which is grown down along side the corners of the mouth. This style is not to be confused with the handlebar, the ends of which are curled upwards. The man looking to become moustached could sport a pencil, a Dali or a Fu Manchu to name a few. The possibilities, it seems, are endless.

Indeed the moustache has made many well-known appearances throughout history. Hitler’s toothbrush moustache is infamous; the inch wide bit of hair is no longer an acceptable choice. Stalin chose to wear a well-groomed version of the walrus, a fuller style that droops over the corners of the mouth while slightly obscuring it. Other well-known moustaches include that of Tom Selleck, made famous during the days of the 1980s television series Magnum PI. It is the moustache your moustache wishes it could be.

Other famous men who sported the ‘stache include Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Salvador Dali, Freddy Mercury and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. If you’re looking for a more recent example, what about the old dude from American Choppers or the guy who stars in My Name is Earl. There truly is no shortage of men with lip sweaters, be that for good or bad.

I simply cannot wrap my head around what it is that makes the moustache something to revere and aspire to. Instead, I see the moustache as a home for lunch crumbs rather than a sign of pure badassness. It doesn’t do anything for me; it’s just some hair on your face that has been wrangled to your upper lip. I can’t appreciate the time and effort it takes to get a full and lush moustache. Please, don’t try to convince me.

It could just be that the moustache is over hyped, a pointless frenzy stirred up by the guys who wear them. But then again maybe it’s because I can’t grow one and maybe, just maybe, I’m secretly a little bit jealous.