Operation: Mustache (A Social Experiment)

For three days, I had a mustache.  Life was different.

We as an American culture are quite familiar with movies where the protagonist disguises himself as something he’s not and is treated drastically different by society: 

In Tootsie (1982), a male actor in NYC pretends to be a Southern woman in order to get an acting gig on a soap opera.  In Soul Man (1986), a white guy pretends to be an African-American so he can get a college scholarship.  In Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), a San Francisco dad pretends to be an aged Scottish woman to spend more time with his kids after the divorce.  In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), two straight firefighters pretend to be married homosexuals for the monetary benefits.

We recognize these situations as comedy.  After recently realizing on my own that men under the age of 40 (who are not cops) can not be taken seriously, I decided to prove my theory.  For 72 hours, I lived my life as a 28 year-old mustachioed man.  Here are the results.

At work, my male and female workers under 40 did nothing but crack jokes about my mustache and talked about what a creep I looked like: 

“I don’t think it’d be a good idea for you to go near a school with a bag of candy…”

 “Where’ s your Harley?”

 “When is your wife going to put her foot down about your mustache?”

“No offense, but you totally look like a pervert with that thing.”

 “Seriously, I can’t even look at you.  In fact, step away from me…  You’re kinda freaking me out!”

However, not surprisingly, the men in my office over 40 specifically and sincerely made a point to come up to me and tell me otherwise:

“Man, I like that mustache.  Looks good on you.”

 “How long did it take you to grow that?  I wish I could have one like that.”

Though I know nothing about babies, for some reason, they always like me.  Whenever I’m near a baby in public, I make funny faces at them and they always laugh.  But Tuesday night, I was standing in line at Blue Coast Burrito with my wife when I looked behind me and saw a mother holding a baby.  I did my usual thing.  The baby didn’t smile or laugh, instead, he looked confused.  His mother turned away from me. 

And lastly, at home, well, as my wife put it:  “I’m sorry, but I just can’t take you seriously with that thing.”  It really changed the dynamics.  She graciously let me do the mustache experiment, but was just as happy as I was to shave it off last night.

Based on my experiment, Operation: Mustache, a man under 40 can not be taken seriously.  I invite other qualified young men to participate in the same experiment, but I don’t recommend it.

Needless to say, I don’t plan to grow a mustache again until I’m at least 40.  Even then…

Read the prequel, Must Not Mustache  http://wp.me/pxqBU-D3

Must Not Mustache: Young White Men Can’t Be Taken Seriously with a Mustache

Why do none of my friends have a mustache?  I’d say a lot of it has to do with the fact that most of my friends are within 5 years of my age, meaning that I don’t know any 24 to 34 year olds who are mustachioed.  The mustache could quite possibly be a dying tradition, with the exception of cops.

Recently I saw an independent movie called Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman and Jewish comedian Jack Black.  For the first 30 minutes of the movie, Jack Black has a mustache.  During that time, he apologetically explains to everyone that he recently had a beard but while he was shaving it off he thought it would be funny to just keep a mustache.  But eventually he shaves it because he doesn’t feel like he can be taken seriously by anyone.

Good point.

Can a man under the age of, let’s say, 40 years old be taken seriously if he has a mustache?

Yes.  But there are definite rules to making it work:

1)     Be a cop, as previously mentioned.  It just sort of goes with the job.  In fact, I don’t think I could take a cop seriously UNLESS he has a mustache.


2)     Be an African American man.  I’ve never seen an African American man who didn’t look good with a mustache.  Will Smith is the epitome.  In fact, I remember on the show Scrubs when Donald Faison shaved his mustache, it bothered me.  Heck, African American men can even pull off the even riskier goatee without exception.  (See Chris Rock and/or Darius Rucker.)

It’s no coincidence that in the sitcom My Name is Earl that Earl Hickey had a mustache.  He was a white guy under 40 who was a loveable idiot.  To enhance his character trait of being out of touch of social expectations, he had to have a mustache.

What’s really interesting is that in a recent study, it was discovered that mustachioed men earn 8% per more money that bearded men, and 4% more than clean shaven men.  Not only that, but men with mustaches are more likely to hired during a job interview.


So does that mean that I am being discriminated against by my own society?  A culture that refuses to take seriously white men with mustaches under 40?  Am I simply at a disadvantage until 11 years from now when I become of age?

I am missing out on a 4% to 8% salary increase over this.  Maybe it’s worth a shot to at least try.

(Looks to stage left, rubs chin for dramatic effect, then begins to plot a bad idea…)

Click here to see what happened next: Operation: Mustache (A Social Experiment)

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on mustaches, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one