Mustache Discrimination

Moustache, Mustache, or ‘Stache- the vernacular is irrelevant; the word stirs a powerful feeling of pride in the mustachioed. Many a man, (and perhaps some women) have sported mustaches in their life; Tom Selleck, Ghandi, Mr. Moneybags, the list goes on and on. And, the community has been growing recently, almost certainly due to the hairy romanticism sweeping the nation.

Braided beards and waxed ‘staches aren’t over the hump yet though. The American Mustache Institute (AMI) released a report in November 2013 regarding the lack of workplace advancement for hairier employees. The AMI writes of the “mustache ceiling;” the lack of whiskers in the upper echelons of corporate America, being due to what they call the “ESPN factor.” ESPN, a network largely consumed by males aged 21-45 features many correspondents, most of whom have smooth faces. Constantly being subjected to these correspondents sends the message that to be professional, one must be clean-shaven, wearing a suit, and have a vanilla sense of humor.    

It’s the reality of the facial hair. While society has slowly started to accept man buns and beards, resistance to hair on the upper lip has been stiff. For the longest time facial hair was taboo in the workplace; Disney only just started allowing employees to wear beards in 2012. A few decades ago beards weren’t considered professional; there was no room for them between luncheon whiskeys and goosing your secretary.

Mustaches are another story. They’ve become associated with the creepy guy down the street who watches everyone through his blinds. The entertainment industry reinforces this ridiculous notion by slapping mustaches on their sleazy antagonists, i.e. Stanley Tucci in THE LOVELY BONES or “Pornstache” in Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.

I was recently subjected to mustache prejudice myself. It was awkward to say the least. When meeting someone for the first time there is a script that almost everyone observes. “Hello, I’m… It’s nice to meet you…yada yada.” It is what it is. Well, how do you respond when the first thing out of someone’s mouth is: “Nice mustache, you look a lot like a pedophile.” You can go about it either one of two ways. Lower yourself and offer another backhanded comment: “Nice forehead, you look a lot like a billboard.” Or you can pretend like disgusting absurdities didn’t just dribble out of their mouth: “Ha! Yeah nice to meet you too.” I chose the latter because let’s face it, there is a double standard. You can deride someone based on their facial hair, but not so much on any other facet of their outward appearance. News flash: people with facial hair have feelings too. Our capacity to feel embarrassment does not disappear with a little stubble.     

 

I wrote this back in 2015, but it’s as relevant today as it was two years ago.

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