By Scott Allen.
When Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for his next start, he’ll do so as the first athlete with a sponsored beard.
Men’s grooming tool manufacturer Wahl announced the unprecedented four-month deal Tuesday at the National Press Club, where Gonzalez received a certificate of achievement for “facial hair excellence,” a T-shirt and a complimentary trim. Wahl also announced Washington, D.C. as the “most facial hair friendly” city in the country.
D.C. ranked 19th on the list of the most facial hair friendly cities last year. According to a press release, the Nationals played a large part in D.C.’s rise to No. 1.
While general popularity of facial hair helped dictate the results of the study, notable facial-hair-related events contributed to the rankings. In L.A., the male celebrity scene continues to support the anti-clean-shaven lifestyle, keeping the City of Bearded Angels at the number two spot. Third-ranked Seattle jumped five spots, raising questions about a possible Grunge revival, while newcomer San Francisco made a ‘Giant’ leap from 29th to 4th thanks in large part to a plethora of baseball beards and some post-season magic last fall.
If a Muslim woman may wear a headscarf at work, as the U.S. Supreme Court has now affirmed, perhaps a Sikh man should be able to wear a turban while serving in the U.S. military.
So argues the Sikh Coalition, an advocacy organization that has long opposed a Pentagon ban on facial hair and religious headgear among service members. That campaign got at least a moral boost with this week’s court decision.
“What I’m anticipating with this decision is that we will have a move in this country to recognize the right of individuals from different religious backgrounds to live in an America that does not discriminate against them on the basis of how they appear,” says Simran Jeet Singh, the senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition.
As a general rule, the Department of Defense prohibits facial hair and the wearing of religious headgear among service members, though it offers “accommodation” on a case-by-case basis in recognition of “sincerely held beliefs.”
Such waivers, however, are given only when they would not undermine “military readiness, unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health and safety, or any other military requirement.”
In practice, those considerations can present major obstacles. Currently, just three observant Sikh men serve in the U.S. military, all in the Army, and all are in noncombat positions. That’s out of an active-duty military force of 1.4 million.
By David Michael Newstead.
Maximilian I was Emperor of the Second Mexican Empire, which existed between 1864 and 1867. He was royalty by birth, belonging to the Habsburg family that ruled Austria and most of Europe for 500 years.
What does that have to do with Mexico, you might ask?
Sponsored by the French government, this young Austrian was put on the throne during a particularly complicated and turbulent time in Mexican history. Monarchist and Republican forces fought over the future of the country and, even at his best, Maximilian was always going to be an outsider.
Despite some successes, his regime didn’t last. With American assistance, the Republicans eventually gained the upper hand. The French withdrew their support, but Maximilian refused to abandon his forces. In 1867, he was captured and executed by firing squad at age 34, thus bringing an end to this unusual chapter in history.
By David Michael Newstead.
In honor of May Day, I wanted to commemorate the long and well-established tradition of facial hair in left-wing politics. Among the beards and moustaches in question, some belonged to tyrants and revolutionaries, while others graced the chins of dissidents, democratically-elected leaders, and a few historical figures that occupy the gray space between good and bad.
Ho Chi Minh
By Karyn Spellman.
My teenage son has gotten much better at shaving, not that he does it that often. He mentioned a few weeks ago that maybe he could will a beard and some sideburns to grow, but for now he’s settling for a ninth grade moustache.
He rarely emerges from the bathroom anymore with tiny bits of tissue stuck to cuts on his upper lip. He remembers to use shaving cream, and he even cleans up the sink most of the time.
My son asked me to buy him his first razor about a year ago, and I responded by suggesting that perhaps his father would be the better one to ask. No, not dad, he said. He didn’t trust him. This was a familiar refrain that didn’t need further explanation.
As I chose a razor for my son from the overwhelming selection at Target the next day, I accepted once again that I, the mother, was navigating my son’s journey into masculinity. For him, his need transcended gender and required someone he trusted with his questions and uncertainty. As a single parent for a few years now, I’ve gotten used to being both mother and father. Some of the issues that arise are complicated, like how a growing boy’s body is changing, and I can’t instinctually or anecdotally relate to that because I’m a woman, and I didn’t grow up with brothers. I have to gauge my son’s comfort level, think of what I know from having lived with a husband at one point, and decide just how much my candid self should say to a self-conscious teenager. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I’m asked to please stop talking already, but at least I know I was trusted enough to have been asked. Still, I can’t shake a feeling of inadequacy and a glaring lack of a Y chromosome. But this time, all he needed was for me to make a trip to the store. Or so both of us thought.
I couldn’t simply teach him how to shave his fuzzy upper lip by telling him how to do it. He needed a demonstration, but I certainly couldn’t do that. Well, I could be silly and pretend, but my son doesn’t “do” silly. I also could have lathered up his face and done the actual shaving myself while he watched in the mirror because I knew how to shave a man, having done it for his father once upon a time. But there were two problems with that: one was the “ew” factor kids have imagining their parents doing anything sensual, and the other was the painful reminder that these parents were no longer together. And then my son didn’t want verbal instructions, either. He just wanted to figure it out on his own. I caught the tension in his voice and could only guess that he thought that this was one more thing that his father should be doing with him and wouldn’t be, and here he was again, on his own.
So as I stood on the other side of the closed bathroom door hoping my son wasn’t shaving half the skin off of his face, I felt like I was too much of a parent for him, hovering too close, and not enough all at the same time. He didn’t need his mother right then, but I was all he felt he had. And I wanted so much more for him that I’ll ever be able to give.