The Manliness of Personal Grooming

… or, Everyday Life Lessons with a Sharp Blade

Talk is going around about the demise of guys; men have apparently gone missing – and the images by which advertising and TV shows portray manly men are at least as dumbfounding as the impossible women they present. In such everyday things as personal hygiene, things are particularly interesting.

After all, on the one hand, it is assumed that a real man wouldn’t care much about his looks and smell. Hell, “man stink” was a theme in an episode of Hannah Montana. (Don’t ask how I’d know.) David Beckham was single-handedly responsible for the sudden appearance and popularization of the term “metrosexual” for a man who took care of himself down to potentially using eyeliner and getting a waxing against body hair.

Shaving w| straight razorOn the other hand, even if Sean Connery as James Bond may have (earlier, much earlier) commented that “no bird builds its nest in a bare tree” regarding his chest hair, there we also have a figure that stands as an example of the man who apparently doesn’t have much time to spend in the bathroom – yet is always unruffled. “Shaken,” perhaps, “but not stirred.”

At the end of 2011, I went “back” to shaving with a straight razor – and it’s provided an interesting perspective. As an everyday matter, it is also one of “everyday life’s lessons:”

The time spent with personal grooming may be rather increased, but it does not exactly feel unmanly. Wielding a blade that is hopefully, literally razor-sharp? And putting it to one’s own throat, to boot? …

Where modern shaving equipment is all about convenience (and sales), a straight razor provides an experience.

  • It is a beautiful object with the potential for becoming an heirloom passed on.
  • It is expensive up-front, but then an investment for a lifetime.
  • It has to be taken care of properly, has to be used with attention, care and skill.

Through all that, a straight razor builds those positive habits and skills rather than takes on the responsibility for delivering the (supposedly) best result no matter the haste and distraction, through ever-new and improved technology that keeps on being updated, keeps us busy buying and trying the latest and supposedly greatest – all but to stop, think, learn, and grow in the skill and attention with which we live.

No, not with me. I’ll rather suffer a cut if I’m careless, take the time and invest the attention to take care of myself, and avoid the constant expense and exhausting onslaught of marketing and the supposed need for considering whether to upgrade.

Upgrade thyself.

Thiers-Issard Crown Oak razor (detail)

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  1. Dawn Elliott

    That last statement is powerful. As humans were are naturally curious and lazy. We want the latest and greatest, while finding the easiest way to achieve it. This post is an example of investment. Investment into a product that will reduce waste, but with the challenge of proper care and usage. These are the foundations of a culture, one that survives is one that has been invested in. Too bad, more people don’t see or realize the importance of investment.

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