man repeller, but for men
Since the people* are clamoring to know - here is what I think of mustaches.
So, do you guys remember the concept of “man repeller” fashion? I’m thinking of the aesthetic famously popularized by the Man Repeller fashion blog in the early 2010s, which folded a few years ago amidst controversy and financial troubles. As a quick recap, “man repeller” fashion, in a loose definition, is a sort of tongue-in-cheek philosophy of women’s style that is deliberately indifferent to the male gaze. It rejects the idea that women should dress for the attention or approval of men, and the idea that women’s fashion is primarily for the purpose of attracting potential boyfriends and husbands. It is not overly concerned with clothes being seen as either “flattering” or “modest”, and at its height, it also celebrated breaking commonly held fashion rules that valued chic and sophisticated vibes, and instead went hard for the bold, funky, and playful.
I’m fascinated by the role that Man Repeller (both the aesthetic and the blog) played in developing the internet fashion of today, and briefly got lost in a sea of interesting think pieces while writing this post. There’s so much to explore in the intersection of fashion, the internet, gender roles, heteronormativity, #girlboss white feminism, etc. But I’m back now to return to my original point - which is that mustaches are man repeller fashion for straight men. Woman repeller, if you will.
Some men might look at examples of man repeller fashion and think - but I’m not repelled, I like that! That’s all very well, but it’s not the point. The point is dressing for fun, and for one’s own sense of style. Similarly, it’s not that mustaches literally repel women. I’m sure plenty of straight women enjoy a good mustache. But I’m convinced that men are experiencing a resurgence of interest in mustaches specifically because they like the way that it looks, independent of whether they think it’s attractive to women. Young guys are going to the movies and seeing Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick, and thinking, “huh, I could do that”. Middle aged guys are watching Ted Lasso and it’s encouraging them to experiment a little with the hair on their upper lip.
And you know what? I think that’s great! I think everyone should feel free to play around with how they look, and not always be fretting about whether it’s more or less likely to make people want to make out with you. I think straight men in particular often get boxed into a narrow range of aesthetic choices and become trained to not step outside of them, which is not a very fun way to live.
So, do I like mustaches? I do not! They are not really my cup of tea. I personally prefer the look of a full beard, especially when it looks like it’s the result of a few months of voluntary exile. But the moral of the story is - it doesn’t matter what I think! If you want one, you should go for it! It’s your face, and I want you to be happy with it.
*the people = the muppets who appear around my bed in my dreams (a la “The Labyrinth”, ft. David Bowie)