A close shave?

Imagine if one fine day men turned around and said they want all women to wear lipstick or they will not listen to them. Sounds bizarre? Something quite similar is happening. The “No Shave, No Lipstick” movement by a razor company is reducing women, men and relationships to such basic common denominators.

It is true products use several tactics to subliminally convince potential and existing customers to go for better options. Will an ad such as this convince men who like their facial hair to shave? If it does, then it reflects rather poorly on male self-esteem, and much more poorly on how women strike a bargain. This is a strike of a petulant kind. The women will let go a bit of vanity, a cosmetic, to ensure that men turn up the way the majority supposedly like them. The implication in the words is that women are exercising this power. In fact, they are denying themselves something. Or, worse, assume that their appeal lies in what they wear on their lips. They are limiting themselves.

The “common platform” is an “aversion to stubble”. The basic philosophy is that if men cannot groom themselves for women then they must not expect the same from them.

Is there a single yardstick to measure grooming? Is it all right for the man to be unhygienic, loud and crass so long as he shaves? What exactly does the ad wish to convey by saying that men think a woman looks less appealing without a lipstick? There are thousands of women who do not wear lipstick, and I mention this because the ‘movement’ has talked about middle-class women too. And don’t we often read in style magazines how the nude-lips look is so in? What about it, then? Besides, the lipstick is an external object that can be applied. A stubble grows naturally. A man may not be able to deal with it immediately or everyday – he could be unwell, he may not be in the mood, he might be busy with other things. This is a kind of pressure to perform, and it is unfair.

I also dislike the manner in which words are used to describe the hirsute man as untrustworthy, giving rise to suspicion that he could be hiding something. He is hiding his chin, if at all, and sometimes this could be the real reason. Like women opting for a fringe if they have large foreheads. Although clean-shaven is mentioned, I am intrigued by the reference to stubble, and not a moustache.

On the other hand, guys who shave are confident, affable and hardworking. There is a small little footnote which says the ad is not intended to hurt the sentiment of any gender or community. This is about men and men with hair on their face. So, forget the hurt, the message could rule out the good qualities of people from certain communities. Are Sikhs not trustworthy? Are Muslims not hardworking? Do cultures where many men sport beards, like Malayalis or the goatee among Bengalis, less affable?

Perhaps the women who are taking part in this silly movement, wasting their time to support it, should ask the organisers to give them a list of criminals in the past few years who have not been clean-shaven. Ask them to provide a list of wife-beaters, drunken drivers, those with poor performance in the office, those who slink in corners waiting to molest, rob, even kill. Ask them to check out what the clean-shaven men wear, if their shoes are polished, whether they bathe regularly.

Let us not forget, there are women who might like men with facial hair. Think about some artists, philosophers, scientists, academics, and even pop stars. If, in the latter case, women can cry out of sheer joy if they get hold of a sweat-soaked T-shirt, then they certainly cannot really mind the stubble.

And if they really care about ‘issues’ they should wake up to reality. I know, I can hear those smirking voices say, chill, this is an ad. But an ad is not just an ad, especially if it purports to be a movement. We have reached a stage where everything is a movement, and it assumes the stupidity of women by making them seen like ‘concerned citizens’, in charge of the whole ‘clean up’ operation, so to speak.

And the poor dears are sacrificing their lipsticks for this. They do not realise that some smart chap might flash the razor in front of them as bait. They are just fishes in the huge sea…

PS: I wonder whether men trust women who do not shave.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I was happy to read the news yesterday. My first impression was that finally women have come to the terms with their body, refusing to wear lipstick (or makeup)and do away with shaving of hair.But alas!Not that I am against makeup but in my opinion accepting your body and loving it is an important step towards women liberty!
    But here ...what a height of stupidity!

  3. Ghazal:

    This is not a news item, it is an ad garbed as a story. I think women can decide whether they want to use lipstick or any sort of cosmetics. The reduction of expectations from men and women bothers me.


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