Monday, August 28, 2006

Todd Levin on facial hair

"What Your Facial Hair Is Really Saying' by Em & Lo, New York

But the majority of women we polled agree with 31-year-old photographer Lisa Whiteman: “While I think some men can pull off a mustache, most of the time it just looks like they’re trying too hard.” Meaning they probably sported a hipster mullet a few years back and own a Williamsburg 5 CENT MUSTACHE RIDES T-shirt. Her bearded boyfriend, Todd Levin, a New York comic, would agree. He recently hosted the beard category of the New York City Beard & Moustache Championships. “The impression I got was that the mustaches, at least on the younger guys, were the punch line to some joke only they knew—and they got a kick out of it,” he says.

So why do beards get a free pass? “There was something almost stoic about the guys with beards,” Levin says. In other words, if the mustache is an ironic statement, the beard is the earnest backlash.

Levin started growing his own short but somewhat scruffy beard four years ago during a temporary bout of existential depression. “I just stopped shaving. And then suddenly I was getting all this good feedback, especially from women.” He theorizes that the positive reinforcement might have been compounded by the fact that he looks “100 percent more Jewish” with the beard. “I think there’s a segment of women who really respond to that in this town,” he says. And now it’s a part of his identity, for both him and his girlfriend, whom he met with the full facial growth. “When she looks at old pictures of me without it, she’ll say, ‘That’s not you.’ So she won’t let me shave it. And even if she did, I don’t think I would.”


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