The Movember movement seems to have reinstigated the love of the beard. Facial hair on a man is a bit like marmite for us ladies…you either love it or hate it.

And as fantastic a charity and prostate cancer awareness campaign as Movember is, like Scroobius Pip once said, a beard is for life, not just for Christmas…

To understand the modern predicament of the moustache and beard one must look at the history not of facial hair but of shaving. In the first decade of the 20th century King Camp Gillette (not a royal, incidentally) patented, developed and marketed what we now know as the ever popular disposable safety razor, a heck of a leap forward in ease of use and economy from the forged steel straight razor[warning link is ultra violent but iconic Resevoir Dogs scene].

First appearing on the market in 1903 by 1915 over 70 million blades were sold world wide.

The motivation behind the development was entirely commercial.  Razors were sold cheap or given away as a loss leader and the new disposable blades which would have to be replaced regularly, sold at a higher price generating high volume sales and massive profits (this is known as the Razor and Blades Business Model). Razor marketing fed on modern paranoias around cleanliness, keeping up with the [middle class] Joneses and during the Great War, perpetuated propoganda stereotypes of ‘the [bristley and dirty] enemy’.

The late 19th and most of the 20th centuries are full of consumer seduction duping potential consumers into believing they NEEDED certain products. This is why, for example, Edison was so successful. With the invention of electricity and its distribution it was necessary to  create a market for it. Thus the improved and practical long life incandescent light bulb.  Though it is true that  toothpaste, deoderant, shampoo and soap all fall into this catagory of products the public have essentially been brainwashed into thinking they needed, I think it is safe to say that dropping those from one’s routine might be undesirable.

Instead if you happen to lean to the left  and oppose capitalistic proponents that have arguably messed up our world big time, consider an act of solidarity with a statement against consumerism and conformity and perhaps one step towards  revolution by simply not shaving.  And failing all that, well it can be really rather sexy. There is a good guide here on how to grow a manly beard.

Still not convinced? Here’s a couple videos on beard love…


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