A generation puts the razor to the sword – WA Today

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April 21, 2013

  • (1)

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a regular columnist.

View more articles from Annabel Crabb

emIllustration: michaelmucci.com/em

Illustration: michaelmucci.com

Goodbye, Metrosexual Man. How we will miss you, with your weakness for textiles, your interesting cheekbones, your knowledge of modern poetry and your principled support for the boutique moisturiser industry.

You had a good run during the past decade or so, didn’t you?

Any world in which David Beckham is the most famous footballer, and Orlando Bloom can slope off with the world’s prettiest girl after playing an elf – AN ELF – in a movie, and Hugh Jackman can maintain his straight heart-throb status despite prancing about protractedly in a rah-rah shirt with maracas, and Zac Efron can do anything at all, is indeed a world in which the metrosexual is king.

But it’s over. Sorry, Metrosexual Man, but your smooth-skinned ways are now a relic of the past. This is the age of Beardy Man.

Look around you.

The Oscars red carpet – a long-serving barometer of aspirational fashion – was infested in 2013 by men who looked as though they had just graduated from a six-month training session with the Unabomber.

This confirms the institutional madness that fizzes at the heart of Hollywood – what other group of professionals would spend years of study, surgery and self-denial developing scientifically perfect cheekbones, only to cloak them impulsively with a home-made pelt?

Brad Pitt started it, I believe. He was first out of the gates several years ago with a ginger-grey profusion that quickly became the world’s most famous beard since that lady who married Elton John in the ’80s.

”Good afternoon. Do you have a booking?” the polite head waiter says as you arrive at a restaurant, his greeting slightly muffled by what appears to be a mid-sized marmot strapped to his face.

In Adelaide last weekend, I sat down to watch Port Power play the Crows and was astonished by the number of beards on ground – not the tufty, indeterminate ones that would sprout forth now and then in days gone by when Metrosexual Man accidentally chose a testosterone-heavy toner, but the proper bushranger kind.

Beards lurk now at every bus stop; every bar. They richly carpet every university library. The merest mention of beards to our information overlords at Google brings forth a cacophony of advice on how to fade one’s sideburns into one’s Abe Lincoln, or the correct handling of nostril hair.

The confusing element to all this is that the beard renaissance is being driven by the young; the entire notion of ”beardless youth” has been inverted.

”He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him,” Shakespeare’s serially undateable Beatrice grumbled.

Even the elder gent is not immune; many are plagued by the genuine concern that their comfortably established facial hair now looks a bit as though they might have grown it in order to pick up chicks. This is a grim development, because no one likes to be thought of as ”mutton chops dressed as lamb”.

As if to confirm the beard’s formal rehabilitation, the flow of enabling academic research is already under way; last month, Fairfax Media reported new research from the University of Southern Queensland indicating that bearded men enjoy a reduced risk of skin cancer.

(This sounds like a pretty obvious bit of beard-boostery, but lead researcher Professor Alfio Parisi does not appear to entertain any vested interest. His USQ staff profile picture reveals – far from the Catweazle a professional cynic might have expected – a smoothly groomed Stephen Smith lookalike who stands calmly by his assessment that facial hair offers a sun protection factor of 21.)

The death of Metrosexual Man may prove a seismic event for the global economy. Big Moisturiser is sure to feel it, as is – one would expect – Big Dropped-Crotch Trouser.

But the primary victim – Big Razor – had it coming.

For decades, they’ve played fast and loose with pricing policy, selling razor handles for a pittance while jacking up the price of blades to a preposterous degree.

With their multisquillion-dollar advertising budgets, their spokesmodels with cheekbones that could have your eye out and their absurd Gillette versus Schick arms race on the matter of how many blades you can cram into a standard shaver, they have exercised a stranglehold on the smooth throats of modern man for far too long.

How apt that their grasping ways should be thwarted by a global outbreak of hairiness – the partial re-wilding of the human manscape.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still nervous when Beardy Man serves me soup. But it’s nice to know there’s some justice in the world.

Annabel Crabb writes for ABC Online and is the host of ABC TV’s Kitchen Cabinet. She tweets as @annabelcrabb.


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