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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Facial hair takes root at UC Davis

Along with the warm spring weather comes the reappearance of baby smooth faces from behind months of winter hibernation.

But not for everyone.

Within the UC Davis community lie some individuals who are so devoted to their facial hair that the presence of their beards and mustaches will extend beyond the winter season. The process begins in December with Don’t Shave It December, which is followed by Just Grow it January, Facial Hair February and culminates with Mustache March.

From carefully trimmed goatees and soul patches to full-grown mustaches and beards, facial hair growth has taken root across campus for reasons that are as unique as the growers themselves.

I heard of ‘Mustache March’ from my friend who started growing a mustache back in November, said senior English major Matt Stauffer. He lost a bet, so he had to grow and keep a mustache all the way till March.

The friend noticed I was growing a beard and asked if I was growing it for those specific months. I told him no – I was just growing it for the pleasure of having a beard – but I was glad to hear there are some months dedicated to raising beard awareness.

Stauffer’s growth of a traditional full beard, with the required mustache intact, was inspired by a friend and encouraged by the compliments of strangers.

I‘ve been told my beard accentuates my jawline, and makes me look older and more distinguished, perhaps even like a young Clint Eastwood, Stauffer said.

Junior animal science major Brian Abern has also found that his handlebar mustache drew compliments from random strangers.

Someone told me that it was ‘the most badass mustache [he had] ever seen,’ he said. I’m not used to receiving compliments from strangers, and it’s interesting that hair on my upper lip invites that.

Andy Bluhm, a junior microbiological major, can be found in the ASUCD Coffee House serving bagels with a smile above his mustache-less beard, also known as a chin curtain. He began growing his beard last summer, due partly to laziness, and eventually found himself enjoying the way it was growing.

Not a lot of people have this beard. It’s distinct and it grew on me, Bluhm said. But blonde facial hair does not conduce well with mustaches. I shaved [the mustache] off and I asked my mom what was different about me. She didn’t notice anything, and when I told her I shaved my mustache off she asked, ‘Oh, you had one?’ I’ve kept it off since.

Similarly, senior political science major Christian Siegenthaler stopped shaving the summer after high school due to laziness – as well as rebelliousness. He’s since toned his beard down to a mustache.

I went to a Catholic high school, Siegenthaler said. There was a rule that you had to be clean-shaven [for mass]. After high school, I wasn’t so disciplined and I let it grow out.

Religion was also the inspiration behind sophomore wildlife, fish and conservation biology major Ismael Rodriguez’s beard. Rodriguez joined the Muslim faith a little over a year ago and began growing a beard shortly thereafter due to his faith’s beliefs.

Muslim women wear scarves on their heads as a form of modesty, and men grow beards to symbolize modesty, too, he said. It’s covering the exterior beauty to help you concentrate on a person’s interior beauty.

Rodriguez has enjoyed having a beard, despite the extra heat it brings when he is biking for the UC Davis cycling team.

Facial hair can also symbolize positive acts and garner positive feedback. Several months ago, late night hosts David Letterman and Conan O’Brian grew out beards as a sign of solidarity for those involved in the writer’s strike.

Conan’s beard wasn’t a way for him to connect with the men on his staff. It was something his staff – men and women – could look at every day and remember that he supported them, Stauffer said. The beard was a rallying point.

While the men interviewed had various reasons for growing out their respective beards, they all agreed that they wouldn’t shave their facial hair off for just any old reason. Siegenthaler said he might, but only if he acquires a job or gets a girlfriend who prefers him to be clean-shaven.

I think it depends because some guys need it because they don’t want to have baby faces, said Misty Mariano, a junior linguisticsmajor. Others don’t need it to look their age. I prefer a little facial hair, like a small mustache or small beard. A [full] beard is not attractive to me.

With the Coho’s Tom Selleck Mustache Competition coming up in May, paired with the great response he’s received, Bluhm sees a positive future for his beard.

A lot of girls say they have never kissed a guy with a beard, but there’s always a first.

 

WENDY WANG can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com. XXX

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