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Most cats prefer whiskers


Man Scape

A journalist for 20 years and a man for longer, Richard Hughes would never, ever use canned shaving foam.

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Beards I get, but piercings?

Beards I get, but piercings?

Beards and piercings - that’s all I’ve been seeing recently. So many men seem to be going down one road or the other or - more and more it seems - both that I’m tempted to join them. The thing is I get one, but I really, really don’t get the other.

Maybe it’s a winter trend and everyone will soon be reaching for the razor as the weather hots up but everywhere I look men of all ages are letting their face fuzz grow. It’s not just me - a colleague said they were on a tram the other day and every man in sight was bearded to some degree or another. It’s not Movember yet.

What’s the pleasure to be had in a lump of metal stuck up the nose, or a stud through the tongue 

And it’s not just the grown-out slack, unshaven look. These beards are cared for.

Item 1: A neatly turned-out twentysomething in the city with a  preacher-style chinstrap. Item 2: At the pool the other day while trying to avoid eye contact with the breast-feeding woman in the shallow end (and what’s that all about?) I almost bumped into another parent with a neatly topiarised sideburn/goatee combination. Item 3: Young(ish) man on train with vertical, centimetre-wide sideburns almost down to his adam’s apple. Item 4: Businessman-type with neatly shaped chin-only thingy.

All of these examples of facial hair looked cool and neat and well-maintained -  not at all the set-and-forget Ned Kelly style. These are beards for today. And to my eye, they all looked great.

But it seems that hand-in-hand with the growth in great beards has come an explosion in “facial jewellery” and that’s, for me, a step too far.

Fashion forward

I’ve been watching the latest season of Foxtel's Project Runway Australia. Twelve young Australian designers vying for the crown etc etc. It’s good, speaks to the secret, fashion-forward me. It’s quite catty, which is nice. And Megan Gale’s in it. Most of the male designers have some sort of beard/moustache thing going on (waxed tips in one instance) and many are also rocking the pierced look into the bargain. Pole jobs in the corners of the mouth, rings in the eyebrow, studs in the nose, you get the picture. They’re ‘’on-trend’’ kind of fellas (or so the wonderful Alex Perry says) so the beard-plus-piercing look must be well ‘‘in’’.

Beards are great. They don’t, if you’re genetically disposed, take much to grow - you just stop shaving really, it’s that easy. Ten minutes a day saved - that’s an hour a week or so. And then you can play with them. Style them, shave bits, trim bits, or get rid of them if you like. Barbers can do this for you, but you can do it at home too.

I have to confess that my beard-watching has gone hand-in-hand with raising a young beard of my own. I’ve got past the itchy stage, past the ‘‘are you growing a beard?‘’ questions. It had even grown a little long and fluffy (to the extent that I could feel it flapping about on my face) when into my lap, so to speak (a PR emailed me and offered a free sample) came the Gillette Proglide Styler ($30 or so) This marries a Braun trimmer (complete with itty-bitty #1, #2 and #3 combs) with a five-blade razor. I got the beard back to neatness with the clippers and shaved the cheekbones back a bit too. Looking good. Bathroom and me covered in 5mm-long browny-white stubble. At least at the barber I don’t have to clean up. But yeah - looking good. There are, I’m sure, many other clippers on the market, and barbers to do the job for you too - and clean up after. Whatever style you choose, beards are pretty easy to tame.

That’s the great thing about them - they’re mutable. Trim a bit here, shave a bit there and away you go. You aren’t stuck with them for life.

Doesn't it hurt?

But piercings? What’s to like about them? What’s the pleasure to be had in a lump of metal stuck up the nose, a stud through the tongue, or a ring through the eyebrow. Doesn’t it hurt? And isn’t there a chance the metal will get caught on something and rip great lumps of flesh off? I saw a woman on telly the other day who had, after running out of places to pierce, bifurcated her own tongue.

Perhaps I'm being a bit knee-jerky here. I’m sure there’s lots of men out there who love their piercing, and many women who find them sexy. So if you feel like it - go for it, as long as you're old enough to make your own decisions. I overheard some teenagers the other day and one of them said they only mumbled when they were talking to their dad. Not just because they were 14, but so he wouldn't notice their new tongue stud.

I found out last night that I was going to have to bid goodbye to the beard after the wife told me that in it’s new, trimmed state I was too prickly to kiss for long. Easy. It’s as good as gone. And, if I wanted to, I know I could grow another. But what if your partner didn’t like the stud, or the ring or the bifurcated tongue? That’s the difference - beards can come and go but piercings are pretty permanent. And that’s why with the styled-beard-plus-piercing look I’m giving a big hand to one and a huge thumbs down to the other.

What about you. Have you gone the beard-plus-piercing route? (And does your job allow you to get away with them?)

70 comments so far

  • I have had a ‘stash & goatee for many years, & the misses gets pissed at me every now & again when I shave it off for a different look. I'm all for the soup strainer & natural bib, but I too cannot understand the face jewellery??? Maybe it's an equality thing, or a poor self image, but really regardless of being a man or a women, needing to poke holes in your face in my opinion is an ugly thing!

    Ears = ok, unless its the African tribe looking humongous earlobe look
    Noses = odd & booger magnet
    Eyebrow's = wtf???
    Lips = wtf too???

    Date and time
    October 31, 2012, 2:45PM
    • I have basically had facial hair in one form or another since it all started to connect at around 19 and stopped being patchy. Being half Italian it seems I've inherited the "hairy wog gene" and can grow a beard with relative ease. Movember is particularly fun as I get to grow a big dirty moustache and get away with it fairly easily. No-one seems to mind that I am constantly hairy-faced at work and my girlfriend actually prefers me with facial hair as opposed to being clean shaven where I look like a 12 year old boy. I had a tongue piercing but took it out about 3 years ago, I felt I had gotten too old for it. Ladies seemed to like it, however my dentist did not.

      Date and time
      October 31, 2012, 3:01PM
      • I like seeing hairy men. It's a nice change. But spare me the nose piercings and worse - nothing says 'bogan' more than that.
        And how can you trust a man's taste in anything if he has an eyebrow piercing? How can I trust the writer of this article if they are even considering it?

        Dirk Bottoms
        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 3:06PM
        • Men are hairy enough without having to grow pubic hair beards (WHY does it get so repulsive, thick and wiry on so many Australian men? Northern Europeans have much nicer beards when they grow one i.e. with normal, straight hair).

          Date and time
          November 01, 2012, 3:04PM
      • So sick of seeing unkept beards on guys, especially younger ones. It just looks lazy, like they can't be bothered shaving and sometimes it looks like they refrain from showering too.

        I don't mind a well kept beard at a distance but I'm not kissing one for too long. Beard rash isn't fun.

        As for piercings I believe it's a generational thing. Youngsters don't see it as a big deal. Personally, I am partial to an eyebrow piercing on a guy but once he's over 40 it's not a good look. Usually the body seems to expel them after a while anyway unless it's in the ear area and it just leaves a bit of a scar. Then you're not sure if the guy was in a fight years ago and had his eye brow cut across or an old piercing scar.

        Can't wait until tatts become unfashionable. Seeing way to many big, bad ones around that it hurts my eyes. Doodle on yourself with a black texta. Cheaper, less painful, washes off eventually and probably at about the same standard as a bad tattoo.

        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 3:23PM
        • It is not lazy, crikey it's a choice. my partners had a beard since he could and I've never seen him without his Ned Kelly.It's him and it's beautiful. I do trim his upper lip though that get's a bit much.
          His beard is very manly and probably started growing it as rebellion to his strict short back sides religious parents.
          Has had it for 35 years or so and getting better with age as it becomes more distinguished with some greys creeping in.
          Very sexy.
          As for tatts no thanks. In moderation Ok if artful and moderation but not on me or partner. As for piercings couldn't care less.
          Least you can shave a beard and take out piercings.Tattoos not so easy and so many so ugly.
          I think there will be an era of enormous tattoo regret as will be with the silicone enhancement boob look. I have a visual of gel bags hanging down, Errgh.
          Tatts, piercings and obesity a really bad look IMO both male/female, not good!
          Anyway all are a personal choice and a way to personalise your look.
          As for me I'm busy waxing my post menopausal mo, not ready for that look or fashion. And I won't need to worry about dropped silicone or tatt removal.
          Hey but I do like to colour my hair even if it is toxic.

          Bearded dragon
          Date and time
          November 01, 2012, 3:50AM
        • Zahara October 31, 2012, 3:23PM: Re tattoos: I have 3, all in places easily covered with a t-shirt and all very high quality. I generally find that people who have tattoos are okay about people that don't have them, but it is rare the other way around.
          I agree on one thing: bad artwork is awful.

          Date and time
          November 02, 2012, 1:25PM
      • There's always a story about the facial hair trend of today. Alot of people (women) seem to think it's somewhat scruffy etc. I'm 42 and have been sporting a goatee for a couple of years now, my father always wore a beard or goatee since i can remember. I think once you pass 40 it's not really a trend thing, but something you can do just because you've matured and can carry it off without just being one of the trend followers (who will probably be clean shaven in a few years anyway once the "new" look comes in).
        so please don't throw us middle aged blokes in with the hipsters, when looking around in judgement.

        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 3:57PM
        • No one will ever confuse you for a hipster if you war a goatee, daddy-o....

          Dirk Bottoms
          Date and time
          November 01, 2012, 9:14AM
      • I agree with you on beards being a winter thing, yeah keeps your face warm and only itches for a few weeks. Come summer Im pretty much clean shaven except for sideburns.
        As to piercings, Ive got a septum piercing and it hurt less than stubbing my toe, the "pain" lasts for a couple of seconds, its not like the piercer is stabbing you! Pinch your earlobe and thats about as much as you feel and the feeling lasts about as long, the only thing that hurts is during the first two weeks as it heals when you get a crust of blood cells drying on the piercing, and that only if you dont follow your piercers instructions on keeping it clean. If you decide you no longer want a piercing simply take it out, they arent like tats.
        As to "the pleasure of having a lump of metal stuck up your nose." Firstly its not a lump, its a machined piece of jewellry and its not stuck up your nose, its external. Secondly the sensation of moving the piercing through the skin is actually pleasant, for weeks after having my nose pierced I would find myself unconciously moving and turning the ring, and years later still do on occasion. Thirdly skin is very elastic and you have to try really hard to tear it out. Fourthly bifurcation isnt a piercing, its a body modification.
        I dont understand the urge to maintain a status quo, whats wrong with men having piercings? Whats wrong with looking different? If we all looked the same wouldnt life be really dull. Status quo equals Orwells 1984, everyone wearing grey clothes and conservative hairstyles. The only thing interesting about that is the ones rebelling, those on the cutting edge.

        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 4:06PM

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