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 by Jon Burras
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Losing Our Razors
        The era of advanced shave technology is upon us. In this golden age of shaving technology there are more and more shaving options available than ever before. The two giant razor companies, (Gillette and Schick) now compete with novel start up companies like Harry's Razors and Dollar Shave Club. A hand held razor is now designed like a slick automobile by an advanced design team. There are a host of electric razors available that have become man's next best friend if hand held blade razors are not your thing. These electric counterparts to a straight edge razor are often favored by many to give a clean and close shave.
        With all of these advancements in razor technology a remarkable occurrence has transpired. It appears that a certain generation of males (mostly the under thirty-five crowd) have lost their razors and have joined the ranks of the grunge look and the semi-unkempt appearance.
        It used to be that if a male exhibited a stubble on his face there were several very logical reasons for it. Some men were just the grizzly bear type and grew out their facial hair in a long and robust fashion. You might be able to find last week's lunch still in this beard or if you were stranded in a survival situation you might be able to wrap the beard around a large part of your body to keep you warm at night.
        Then came the very heavy bearded male who needed to shave twice a day or the afternoon shadow would creep in making it appear that he had never shaved at all. Along came the flamboyant artist who was given permission by society to be unshaven because that is just what artists do. Celebrities soon took on the three day grunge look and would deliberately not shave before they were to appear at an event or for an interview. This became the cool thing to do on late night talk shows and red carpet interviews.
        Many athletes began to grow out their facial stubble for three days before a contest or game. The thinking was that if you looked wild and unkempt you would be more intimidating to your opponent. With a stubble face and black under liner you were trying to convey to your opponent that you were mean, wild and unpredictable. You were trying to intimidate the other team whether it was soccer stars, baseball pitchers or football linebackers. That strategy worked until everyone began to do it.
        But what is interesting is that a subtle line has been crossed as of late. While the artists, athletes and celebrities were given free reign to have stubble face now it is common for mainstream professionals to do the same. The unofficial civilized dress code has quietly changed to include members of the media, politicians, coffee baristas, morning television talk show hosts, male models, bartenders and public spokespeople. A once clean shaven professional male might be a thing of the past as the three day grunge look has taken over.
        Men in the military fighting a war in a foxhole drenched in rain seem to manage to shave every day. Why can't men of today's generation find it themselves? It used to be that if you were unshaven you were either on vacation or going through a three day drunken binge. Now the three day shadow has become a fashion trend to try to emulate. Males actually work hard at trying to achieve this goal. A male has to decide when to start the three day grow. Should he trim the neck line or sideburns or just let it all grow out?
        There is quite a bit of grooming and preparation that goes along with this new male unshaven look. Pruning and plucking might take just as long or even longer than just shaving the entire face each day. Many males are looking for the wild face but with a touch of sophistication. They want you to recognize that they actually planned to look unkempt and that it was not just by accident. This unshaven look is akin to how some women wear tight fitting jeans that have been ripped in several places. These women have to work hard (and pay more) to look grungy.
         Some wish to call this the new sexy. After all if soccer star David Beckham can look sexy in his grunge look than it must be okay for all other males to follow suit. This logic is like saying that if Marilyn Monroe stopped shaving her legs and her armpits she would be even sexier and we would still all adore her and follow her example.
        Then there is the male bald compensation pattern. Some men who have lost their hair on the top of their head will keep the three day unshaven look permanently to hide the fact that they have no hair on their head at all. As if we do not notice that they are bald and the hair stubble on their face is a reminder that they are still male and have masculinity written all over them.
         If the current trend continues you will see male doctors, lawyers, priests, rabbis and even the President of the United States with a three day unshaven face. No longer relegated to cowboys on the plains or construction workers building a high rise, the unshaven look is now part of mainstream culture. The "Marboro Man" of today might be seen with your next doctor's office appointment or the next time you must appear in court in front of a male judge.
        Yes we have lost our razors and cultural norms are changing. American women with hairy armpits and a healthy growth of hair on their legs might be next. The good news is that fashion trends come and go. If you are late to the stubble face party you might want to hurry up because it might be gone before you know it, having died along with the mullet and the mohawk. Don't give away your razor just yet.