Our disdain of bodily hair on women starts early in life. The “aunty with the furry arm”, for instance, could never compete with the babe who boasted of perfectly smooth skin. I remember, as a seven-year old, hawing at the lady who had hairy armpits under her off-shoulder blouse. Now, I might ward that off as evidence of what the company of over-mature kids-in-my-high-school could do. But years later, I cannot claim to be the nirvana woman who sees bodily hair as the newest fashion accessory. Even when my man is among the only ones to appreciate as much. My Granddad, with a scrutinizing expression, has only this to say when I return from the parlour – “what exactly did you get done?”
Now when it comes to some men, hair is apparently among the choicest vegetation to furbish.
A ponytail for the head, a nice and wavy beard for the face. “It adds character, don’t you think?” chuckles my man, when I quiz him about the connection between artists and facial hair. While a few of these bearded men indeed are good at what they do, several use this character-enhancing device as a cover-up for lazy mornings. Then, the ‘bedraggled look’ suddenly becomes hot and the evening stubble is what goes with every conceivable look/occasion. Sadly, unkempt chins don’t hotness make. All they make for is vegetation you long to mow. Tingling and scratching vegetation at that.
But you see, life can be quite fair at times – possibly to make up for its several questionable decisions. If it is the evening stubble you detest and it is distance from you which he does, bingo! Why, after all, do we invest such time and energy to grooming? It is all very well to talk individuality and advocate dressing up for “my own enlightened self” but the fun part is appreciation. The way someone’s eyes light up when you wear their favourite colour, for instance. Even if the texture reminds you of potatoes you mashed and refrigerated last weekend. Now, while I don’t advise throwing up a tantrum, the stubble does come with many err, functional limitations. It ain’t tidy, for starters. Complaints from a hygiene conscious partner can be well placed here. What about its prickliness? Or the perceptions of laziness that it conjures up? Or even the way it draws away from ease and sophistication? Cooked-up stories about a stubble being kiss-worthy are just that. Stories! When it comes to those special candlelit moments, clean-shaven rules the roost. And it is what, I tell my man, I would ideally roost to.
The way the chin feels, at the end of the day, is cosmetic. Much like the earrings I match my clothes to or the kajal I line my eyes with. But, over time, the way we keep ourselves starts defining us. Largely. In that vein, I think it makes perfect sense for a man to invest some time in the way he keeps his facial hair. The call may be his – neat and shaven or unkempt and messy? But the trigger to the decision comes from other quarters. “Shave or Crave” is quite the mantra. Coupled with how a dose of drama is all very well when the cause is noble. 😀