â€œI hate it when you offer someone a sincere compliment on their moustache and suddenly sheâ€™s not your friend anymore.â€ (Source: Someone who rarely finds the opportunity to enjoy female companionship.)
Over millennia, the act of men cultivating various forms of facial hair has ranged from being a hobby (for those competing in handlebar moustache contests, for example) to a religious act (such as those associated with the Amish, Sikhism, Islam, certain sects of Judaism and major league baseball, for example).
In the days of my youth, my recollection is that it was uncommon to encounter someone with a full-blown, bushy beard (or, at least not in my small corner of the world). And those who did choose to sport a moustache, goatee or beard usually kept their affectations mostly short and well-groomed. Going around with a one- two- or even three-day crop of stubble evoked suspicions of undesirable personal hygiene.
No more: The three-day beard has become socially acceptable.
This trend seems to have been be fostered primarily by millennials. And I think the reason is two-fold: First, weâ€™re seeing a lot more men with facial hair on television and other media due to, among other things, the attention being bestowed upon our friends (and others) from the middle east as well as other far-away locales where beards are simply more commonplace. As a result, the sight of an unshaven male has become more acceptable here as well.
Secondly, the cost of wrangling a face full of bristles every morning has gotten entirely out of hand. I believe this is due, at least in part, to a devious pricing tactic employed by the manufacturers of shaving products, which was apparently adopted from the manufacturers of computer printers and copiers. Regarding the latter: One might notice that the various computer peripherals on display at your local office supplies store may be acquired at suspiciously low prices. We eventually learn that the reason for this is that the toner and print cartridges required for their operation are NOT available at low prices. Case in point, I bought an inkjet printer for my office a year or so ago for about four hundred dollars only to find that the starter set of ink cartridges that came with it ran out in two weeks. A full pack of replacement color cartridges? About $65.
In further support of this theory, I submit my recent experience at the local grocery store. As is often the case on any given Saturday afternoon I found myself standing in the checkout line keeping myself amused by reading the covers of celebrity magazines (thatâ€™s how I keep up with these people). I eventually worked my way up to a rack of shaving products. And on that rack was a name-brand, new-fangled super razor for $9.99. And right next to it was a packet of four replacement blades for said razor listed at $17.99.Â I rest my case. (Personally, I have been using the same Trac-II for decades, which works perfectly well when used in conjunction with bits of toilet paper to stop the bleeding. Generic blades are still available at reasonable prices for some reason).
And then, of course, there is the simple fact that many young men are inclined to provide observable validation of their virility by growing some manly facial hair just like they see in TV ads and on the covers of those celebrity magazines. Some of these youngsters have more success with this than others.
Okay, well, us boomers can ride that train, too. Now that I am retired I have taken to shaving only once per week; and also on those rare occasions when I find it necessary to get off the couch for some reason (other than going to bed).