NAKED FACES

The young boy approaching puberty looks forward eagerly to sprouting his first masculine chin-hairs but no sooner does he have them he’s chopping them off and returning to a bare-faced condition once more.
NAKED FACES
Representational Pic

As an attempt to degendering males, is hard at work, each morning, scraping off their facial gender signals. For them, shaving is an 'everyday-thing'. While shaving, they cut themselves, they get razor-burn. On a lesser note, they set aside the time to do it. For these reasons, they sometimes don't do it every day. Or sometimes they even grow a beard without the intention to grow a beard. Given its significance, by it, gender, religious or any other identity, the removal of the male beard appears both bizarre and perverse, especially when during teens and preteens we're mad-keen to grow one on our peach-fuzzed faces. An act of self-mutilation that doesn't protect the body or exaggerate natural masculine features, the shaved- man appears less male when compared to wearing the beard. For Freud, a shaved-face is an emasculated-face and a dream about being shaved a dream about the fear of cauterization.

Beards have been sacred, and undoubtedly and continue. The old rules of religion, class and fashion, all forgotten, and yet a naked-face has become the social norm, rather than a local oddity. People need to have some benefits in having a clean-shaven chin, even if they're not obvious at first glance. It's more than local, fashionable whim, even if it isn't inevitably present in every culture. Shaving beard requires efforts. Costs of toiletries and time involved are exorbitant. At the rate of 10 minutes for shaving a day, the adult for 60 years, shaves for 3650 hours of seemingly useless activity. The elements of truth in the explanations given remain superficial. When it does receive comment it's usually described either as an improvement in cleanliness when eating or drinking or as a status symbol indicating that the shaven-males have time to spare for their toilets or as a distinguishing feature separating shaven-males from their hairy neighbours in the tribe next door. He who shaves seems younger. A shaved-face is potentially both cleaner and healthier. Beards act as scent trap. A shaved-Face is potentially more fragrant face. Beard is rough to the touch. A shaved-face is gentler to the touch (short bristles or stubble is equally rough to touch). Beards were worn in prehistoric times because there were no razors available then.  A shaved-face is unconsciously associated with a more sophisticated condition. Political leaders, heads of state, cinema heroes today are almost all clean-shaven. They wish to portray themselves as belonging to the social mainstream and not as the 'outsider'.

Beard conceals the facial expressions. Bearded-faces are psychologically a barrier between companions. This isn't the case with shaven-faces. He who shaves has a more exposed face and therefore easy read. Shaving makes people more naked and so more human. A shaved-face appears to be far less assertive, much friendly, and more trustworthy and transmits an air of efficiency, effort and precision as also a castration. Even though hardly anyone, who shaves, thinks in terms of feminine looks, but because the shaved face is less masculine it reduces the visual effect of the male aggressiveness. The clean-shaven face is much more suited to the gentler, more amicable new man than of the bushy-bearded face. It's become more and more of a cultural appeasement-display by males, who're no longer demanding physical dominance, a masculine right, but wish to be friendly. The clean-shaven male is making a visual statement, a request for cooperation rather than competition.

The thrusting-forward of the male chin is a key element in an emotionally-charged, aggressive approach and the presence of a large bushy-beard exaggerates this thrusting action dramatically. Wearing a conspicuous beard tends to be the deliberate act of an 'outsider' to have a hairy face that makes him seem more animalistic. Indeed the full beard is now seen more and more like a symbol of much-swaggering and potential aggression, a dominating beard.  Even though some bearded- men lavish a great deal of time on their facial hair but for most of these bearded- men, wearing of a big, bushy implies a careless, undisciplined attitude toward as life. For too many people, in earlier times, the idea of shaved-face was considered as grotesquely unnatural and disgrace. It's a punishment meted out to a defeated foe, to prisoners and slaves. With the passage of time the decision to shave or not became more complex. Some religious orders were shaved and others bearded. Today the strict rules of yesteryears in the majority of the cultures have nearly vanished. People can have a shaved- face, a mustachioed- face, a stubble-strewn face or a fully-bearded face without fear of reprisals. The only exceptions are those cases where religious factions impose rigid controls. Well-dressed fanatic and pious are nearly always bearded. 

There's admittedly large number of bearded and mustachioed- males to be seen today, but the habit of male face-shaving has a long and ancient history and is widespread across the face of the globe. The visual advantage of clean-shaven male faces is that they can transmit with greater subtlety the nuances of facial expressions. Mouth movements and postures are extremely complex in the human species. Visual signalling from the mouth region is enhanced by the removal of surrounding or overhanging hair. The tactile advantage concerns the sensual value of skin-to-skin contact. But against both, these advantages must be set, the loss of an ancient male gender signal, so the hairy /hairless pendulum continues to swing back and forth from culture to culture and from epoch to epoch. One of the many categories of self-mimicry is that of infantile-echoes. The face of the adult shaven-male is more babyish than the evolutionary device which enables the adult female to stimulate protective parental feelings in adult males. In a similar way male shaving apart from its others functions can be seen as a cultural attempt to switch-off assertive, masculine, signals. The clean-shaven male is in a sense pseudo-infantile. The young boy approaching puberty looks forward eagerly to sprouting his first masculine chin-hairs but no sooner does he have them he's chopping them off and returning to a bare-faced condition once more.

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