Facial hair throughout history and today

Isaac Khan is a junior at Fort Payne High School, and during quarantine he decided to stop shaving his mustache.

Families love to gather around old photo albums and reminisce about yesteryear. Laughter is commonly a part of the trip down memory lane as the latest generations look at the way the previous generations wore their hair and clothing.

It’s funny how trends come and go and yet at any given moment in time the style felt perfectly acceptable. Of course, many fads work their way back-in around ten or twenty years later and thankfully some never return.

Beards and mustaches have also come and gone in various cultures. In ancient Greece, a neatly trimmed beard was a mark of a philosopher. In late imperial China the general population saw it as uncivilized to wear facial hair.

In ancient Egypt beards were associated with high rank. In the ancient Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Sumerian, and Hittite empires, elaborately decorated beards were indicators of high social status while slaves were clean-shaven. In Western culture in recent centuries facial hair has become more a matter of fashion than of cultural identity.

Some famous people would be basically unrecognizable without their mustaches. Take for example Mark Twain, Burt Reynolds, Albert Einstein, Hulk Hogan, Groucho Marx, Theodore Roosevelt and even Adolf Hitler.

Currently, in the United States, it is not popular to see teenagers wearing mustaches, however Isaac Khan is one of those young men who decided to “step out of the box.”

Khan will be a senior next year, at Fort Payne High School, and decided during quarantine to stop shaving his mustache. “I had to start shaving at age 11,” said Khan. “When school started back all of my classmates and teachers on Zoom were surprised to see my mustache. Some like it and some don’t, but I like it so I have no plans to shave it for now.”

No doubt Hollywood has played a huge role in what is hot and what is not. Take television characters like Thomas Magnum from the television show Magnum P.I. who helped make the mustache popular again. Tom Selleck, who played Thomas Magnum, has been quoted as saying, “My mustache gets so many questions he has his own agent.”

Whatever trends come and go one notable lesson can be learned from 17 year old Khan. Something doesn’t have to be popular among your peers to make it permissible.

Issac’s Motto: “March to the beat of your own drum.”

— Marla Ballard’s Who's Who appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday and weekend editions.

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