Shaving is Living: Lose the beard & try slowing it down this year
“Shaving” no longer suggests what it once did. At best, modern shaving is defined by hyper-kinetic commercials that morph razors into race cars and jet planes while ripple-ly muscled men in towels yank swishy 792-blade containing disposables across lantern jaws. At worst? Shorthand for the shockingly common, and unbelievably decadent, trend of landscaping one’s genital region into something more closely resembling an abandoned beach than the “English Garden” most of us were born with. It’s almost enough to make you cry.
Once upon a time (or at least back when I was younger) the act of shaving appeared somehow more mystical than it seems today. Consider, the badger-haired brush applying luxurious foam to day-old stubble. A dangerously sharp straight-razor, resting open, near a tiny sink of steaming hot water. The mirror, fogging with moisture and suggesting that only the most serious of masculine tasks is about to take place. Shaving was really something back then. It was a ritual. An aspiration.
Naturally, boys counted the years until they too would produce enough testosterone to justify shaving. We practiced with popsicle sticks and foam bubbles from the bath – certain that true manhood only arrived with facial hair in tow. Sadly, my time came about in an age of haste – meaning electric and safety razors turned a craftsman’s art into an apprentice’s task. A five-minute lesson from dad was all it took and most of us were good to go. And we did – getting more bored with the vapid reality of shaving each and every day. It was now on par with brushing your teeth. Thankfully though, someone finally rebelled.
The magazine ad I saw was for a company called The Art of Shaving. It featured a handsome bloke shaving with a cut-throat while reading Greek philosophy (in original Greek, of course). The title was “The Shaving Savant” and the black & white throwback styling somehow forced me to pause and investigate some more.
The ad led to a website where other feature ads, and videos, were contained under a heading called The Brotherhood of Shaving. Clearly, the attempt was to bring back the beauty to the most mundane of manly chores.
Founded in 1996 by a couple determined to provide “the perfect shave,” they first began by selling their car and using the proceeds to open a shop on a small side-street in Manhattan. The business flourished, mainly due to word of mouth, and eventually got so big and prosperous that Proctor & Gamble snapped it up in 2009 for their Gillette brand. The store, dedicated to the art of shaving, now exists in more than seventy-five locations around the US. They sell classic products that hearken back to a time when shaving was elegant, and transformative.
Their ads are wonderful. Using black and white brilliantly, they create an image and a feeling that demands any true man start taking his shaving more seriously. One spot, called The Gentleman Shaver is like a silent comedy in presentation but sheer genius in its raw marketing. A man dutifully goes to shave just as his stunning lady love commandeers the bathroom and proceeds to hamper his efforts with every single move she makes. His comical efforts at continuing his shave, even as she so obliviously thwarts him, are hilarious. Amazingly, it is a battle of the sexes in which neither party is left diminished. That’s a rare treat.
Another spot is called The Reformed Troglodyte in which a man uses the simple act of shaving as a trigger to transform his otherwise misspent life.......or does he? You’ll just have to watch to fully appreciate what’s on offer by in this sweet little spot. They have several others that are well worth the effort to explore.
Too often, the things that become routine invariably lose the respect they once deserved. When the very act of living itself gets downgraded by the speed at which we attempt to execute it we know something is wrong. Slowing down – and actively savoring – such easily mundane tasks as eating, dressing, shaving and yes, even sex can only help in encouraging us to better enjoy what being human is all about. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever had more of a desire to invest scads more time in grooming myself than ever before.