Striplv Magazine - The Sexiest Magazine on the Planet, Issue 0817

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Page 33 of 79

While the fashionisters (the male version of fashionista) debate over whether or not they should wear lace shorts or rompers this summer— and yes they really do exist, and yes, people really do wear them— STRIPLV tackles the one really hard fashion question that sooner or later every man must decide. “Should I shave?” While some cultures around the world interpret beards and mustaches as a sign of wisdom, honor, masculinity and virility, we must face the fact (pun intended) that Americans are obsessed with facial hair. We have an entire industry built on male grooming, which generated $21 billion worldwide last year, $9.1 billion of which was from U.S. consumers. What’s more, online sales of men’s barbering products continue to grow. In 2016, men’s shaving products reached $826 million in sales through internet retail outlets, about 9% of the total sales in this space. The biggest online seller in this category, Dollar Shave Club, which has more than 3 million subscribers and whose annual sales topped $200 million in 2016, was sold last year to Unilever for $1 billion. Americans are so obsessed with facial hair that each year a three-day event is held, sponsored by major corporations like Remington (Spectrum Brands), Lone Star Beer (Pabst Brewing Company) and Just For Men (Combe Incorporated), called the World Beard and Moustache Championships. This year the event will be held in Austin, Texas from September 1–3 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which can accommodate more than 2,000 people. The event will attract facial hair enthusiasts from around the world including more than 1,000 competitors and fans, and will feature live entertainment, food vendors, family-friendly activities and dozens of competitions. So, how did we go from the old barber shave for five cents to the multi-billion dollar industry of today where we have clubs, organizations and competitions? Well, a lot of it has to do with how Americans like their faces to look and so we have to go back about 200 years to trace America’s history as it pertains to beards and mustaches. The Early 1800s Right around the turn of the 19th century, American men typically had clean-shaven faces. For a good reason. America had won their independence from the British crown only three decades prior, and those who were in leadership positions were feeling a sense of authority and freedom, which in itself was odd because slavery was still very much a reality at the time. However, it was commonplace for black men who weren’t slaves to serve as barbers during this time and become independently wealthy by listening to the secrets that were shared by the scholars and power players who frequented their barbershops. As the 1800s moved forward, racial tensions in the U.S. mounted. By 1848 the government grew from 13 colonies to 30 states, and many of them wanted to end slavery. As friction continued and we moved closer toward the Civil War, many white men began fearing the position of power black barbers held. Because of this fall from grace by the black barbers and since white men ran the risk of contracting tetanus (or even something that would lead to death if their razors were not properly sterilized when they shaved), facial hair and an unkempt look came into fashion. The Mid-1800s By the start of the American Civil War in 1861, all facial hair was extremely popular in both the North and the South, but heavy sideburns and Shenandoah beards seemed to dominate men’s grooming habits. While today we think of sideburns as hair down the side of one’s face – popularized during the clean shaven era by men like U.S. Presidents John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren and which had a resurgence more than 100 years later during the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s – in those days sideburns included a mustache that would connect the two. The term was named after Civil War Union Army General Ambrose E. Burnside, who after the war served three one-year terms as Governor of Rhode Island, was elected to the Rhode Island Senate as a U.S. Senator and who was the very first president of the National Rifle Association. As for the Shenandoah beard, also called a chin curtain, look no further than your wallet and the portrait printed on the five dollar bill. Oddly enough the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, didn’t grow his beard until late 1860. A few weeks before Lincoln was elected, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell from Westfield, New York, wrote him a letter urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance. The suggestion turned into the iconic look we know today. The chin curtain grows along the jaw line and covers the chin completely. This is not to be confused with the chinstrap – a similar beard style that also grows along the jaw line but does not cover the chin fully. Also, many chin curtain beards do not extend far below the jaw line, if at all, whereas all chinstrap beards normally do. The Shenandoah remains common even today among married Amish men. Male members of this religious sect generally grow a beard after baptism but shave off their mustache. To the Amish, the mustache is associated with the German military fashion that was prevalent at the time of their community’s formation in Europe. The exclusion of the mustache serves as a symbol of their commitment to pacifism. The Early 1900s As the 20th century came about, men once again began to fancy a more clean-shaven look, except this time there was the occasional mustache thrown into the mix. Instead of politics and power playing a part in the pronouncement, advertising, sex and science were the deciding factors. With viruses discovered in the 1890s on the heels of the work done by bacteriologists like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, beards were thought to carry germs, including influenza, which of course was still a major cause of death in the early 1900s. In addition to the fear of kicking the bucket, there was only one thing that could perhaps motivate men even more than dying – the prospect of getting laid. By 1910, The Gillette Company, which was founded only nine years earlier, began encouraging men through advertising campaigns to shave daily, claiming that women appreciated and preferred a clean-shaven face. That didn’t stop the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, from sporting a much-revered handlebar mustache, aptly named after the shape of bicycle handlebars. While Taft wasn’t the first well-known American to rock that style of ‘stache – Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, and J.P. Morgan all wore it before him – from 1909 to 1913 he was the last POTUS to do so. As a matter of fact no presidents since Taft have worn any facial hair, and perhaps that might be contributed back to the notion of women preferring a clean-shaven face. After all, on November 2, 1920, more than eight million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the very first time. The 1930s and 1940s While various forms of facial hair were fairly common prior to and during World War II, the most dominant mustaches of the era were the pencil mustache (a thin mustache that outlines the upper lip, neatly trimmed so that it takes the form of a thin line, as if having been drawn using a pencil) and the toothbrush mustache (shaved at the edges, except for about an inch and a half above the center of the upper lip with the sides being vertical rather than tapered). The pencil mustache, called that because it was “pencil-thin,” stretched across the upper lip with a space between the top of the mustache and the nose. Many classic Hollywood stars of

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