Ah, December. The air is crisp, the music is festive, the hot chocolate is spiked. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. Also, Movember is over, and it’s time for you to shave your hideous fucking mustache.
Don’t get me wrong–testicular cancer awareness is a fantastic and important cause, and I commend the founders of Movember for creating a fun, effective way for men everywhere to get involved. But that doesn’t mean I like your nasty lip scarf.
It’s important that we address this issue today, on the morning of the Great Shave, because as November comes to a close, there is inevitably one terrible, nagging thought that will cross every red-blooded mustachioed man’s mind as he searches his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Hmm, he will think. I look good.
Let’s make this perfectly clear right now: No, he doesn’t. You don’t. You do not look good in that mustache. You just don’t. I don’t care how full it is, I don’t care how groomed, I don’t care whether it’s curled at the tips or parted in the middle. Your mustache is bad, it will always be bad, and for every second you spend considering keeping that misplaced eyebrow under your nose, there is one more girl who will never, ever sleep with you.
So why do men grow mustaches? This seems like the logical question to ask. After all, almost every other act of the male heterosexual is done with the express purpose of impressing the female. Yet straight men continue to insist, year after year, that they would look great with a mouth merkin. It defies immediate reason. But it is not purposeless. And after years of extensive research, I’ve finally determined exactly why the mustache continues to be a fundamental Man Phase. Allow me to explain:
Men do not grow mustaches for women. Men grow mustaches for other men.
Now before you get defensive, let’s work this through. (And please note that there will be time to discuss the few exceptions to this rule further down.)
How does a woman respond to a fresh mustache on a man? “Ew,” “Sweet Christ what did you do to your face?,” “I’m seeing someone else” — these are all common and perfectly acceptable female reactions.
How does a man respond to a fresh mustache on a fellow man? “Sweet ‘stache, dude.”
For men, the ability to grow facial hair is a mark not only of masculinity, but also of adulthood. Boys associate mustaches with their fathers, their grandfathers, Theodore Roosevelt, Tom Selleck–men who by their very definition are symbols of raw, virile authority. Young men look up to these figures. They long to emulate them. And for the bulk of their formative years, they cannot. Their young, supple cheeks simply cannot produce the required hair. And so they wait impatiently for the day when they too have the ability to demonstrate this most basic of male qualities.
Fashionable or not (and it’s really, really, really not), these young men use mustaches as a way to indicate their long-awaited adulthood. When a boy’s first few delicate pubies start to poke their sweet way into the sunlight, that boy receives the validation he has longed for his entire life. And when that boy develops the ability to grow an entire mustache–well, that’s like a teenage girl discovering a push-up bra for the first time. Suddenly she can have the C-cups she’s always wanted, even though she’s really only setting herself up to disappoint her 8th-grade boyfriend Joshua. It’s a hard opportunity to pass up.
So men will grow their mustaches, and they’ll commend each other, slapping their backs as they sprout their flavor savors together. A stache-less man recognizes power in another man’s mustache. He smells virility in its musky fibers. His pants stiffen with awe and envy at what he can only see as a display of rugged masculine power. And so that clean-faced man goes home and looks in the mirror and decides he wants to command that same power. He decides he wants a mustache of his own, too. And thus the cycle continues, in the great male Circlejerk of Life.
Because every rule has its exceptions, it would be a mistake for me to ignore the areas this theory does not cover. There are three basic exception factions to the Mustache Theory:
1. Homosexual Men.
Gay men also grow mustaches for other men. The only difference is, since they are all men, everyone is okay with it. Also in this category are the transgendered, genderqueer, and those lucky women who wish to grow facial hair for whatever reason and possess the ability to do so. In other words, people who generally don’t spend an extraordinary amount of effort and thought toward sleeping with heterosexual women.
2. The “Mustaches are Quirky” Propagators.
There is a regrettably persistant phase in society right now that actually lauds the mustache instead of condeming it. This is seen most prominently in the associate communities of Brooklynite Hipsters and Tween Girls On The Internet–you know, those people who think mustaches are just so, so quirky. These Mustache Riders sometimes grow actual mustaches, but more often they just spend their time exalting the mustache as an objet d’art in and of itself. See: the sale rack at Urban Outfitters, all of Tumblr, your hipster girlfriend’s inner-finger tattoo.
Freaking Claire’s has a whole mustache marketplace. DO YOU FEEL COOL NOW YOU IDOLATORS?
3. The Guy Who Actually Looks Good in a Mustache.
I know, I know, after an entire essay about how no man looks good in a mustache ever, it seems like I’m voiding everything I’ve said. But please understand that this is the rarest of the rare exceptions. Yes, there are some men that belong with a pushbroom. We’ve already mentioned the Selleck. Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) is another man whose entire image is built upon his hefty ‘stache. For these men, the mustache is about their personal brand, and without it, they would be unrecognizable. There are also men for whom a mustache can be acceptable. Note that I say acceptable, not preferable. (Seriously, nobody looks better with a mustache. Have I not made this clear enough yet?) However, if you are truly, gutbustingly beautiful, your hotness can override your mustache ride. See: Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Ryan Gosling. None of these guys is better for their stache, but who cares about facial hair when those faces are so positively dreamy. So if you are growing a mustache, you better be as dreamy as Brad Pitt. And if you think you’re as dreamy as Brad Pitt, you’re probably a real asshole. What I’m telling you is, THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU. YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION. YOU ARE THE RULE.
So there you have it. And now you have a choice. You can take one last Movember selfie, suck a few final crumbs out of that mouth sweater, shave your Movember mustache off your punim and reveal the sexy man you’ve always been on the inside. Or, you know, you can keep the dirt squirrel and spend the rest of your life wondering why you only seem to attract other men.
Your future is in your hands. For your sake, I hope they’re holding a razor.