I have no problem with people expressing themselves how they will, providing it has no direct negative impact on anyone else. Personally, I dislike tattoos as a mode of self-expression, but this is largely because so few are truly well executed, and I’m always dubious about how anyone can be certain he or she will want the same skin markings for life. In my early twenties, I dyed my hair bright red and could never envisage wanting any other colour… but I did. Several other colours, in fact. Hair dye either washes, or grows, out. Tattoos tend not to. But it’s not my purpose just now to whinge about body art; and, as I say, if it makes the individual happy, and the aesthetic is pleasing to him or her, even temporarily, then so be it. The same goes for piercings, surgical mods, clothes, and lifestyle choices in general.
If you wish to identify as a punk, a goth, a hippy, a hipster, then that’s all fine with me. If you wish to mix the genres and create your own hybrid, eclectic style, that’s even better. But, please, please, do it because you think it looks good. The rest of the world might disagree, but what do they know? You are your own person and you should please yourself in these matters.
If you want to grow a moustache (and are capable of so doing), then grow one. Grow a Victorian villain twirly moustache and wax the ends; or big thick handlebars; or a drooping, lugubrious Zapata jobbie; even emulate the late Herr Hitler if his facial hair strikes you as becoming. But do not grow one because of some bloody stupid Movember nonsense. If a moustache is not your thang, then think of some more original way to make people aware of prostate cancer (is that what it’s in aid of?) and preserve your self-respect. And if a moustache is something you occasionally grow and occasionally shave off again, then doing it for the eleventh month is hardly going to attract attention; people will merely think ‘Oh, it’s Dave (or whatever your name is), trying out new looks again,’ and get on with their lives.
And now I read in The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/body-politic-after-movember-here-comes-armpits4august-8717396.html) that women are feeling hard-done-by that they can’t also make idiots of themselves in the name of charity and have started Armpits4August which involves letting their under-arm hair grow in order to raise awareness of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Puh-lease! So personal grooming is going to go out the window for a month, one of the few warm, sweaty ones we get in this country, and women are going to walk around in sleeveless tops, arms aloft, to show off their hairy pits? Again, I’m not saying anyone should or shouldn’t epilate. It’s a personal choice. If you want to have shaggy under-arms, have them by all means; but if you don’t — and I myself dislike both the look and the feel of excess body hair — then whatever good can it do to grow it, because, honestly, only your nearest and dearest are ever really likely to know what you’re doing and why. Most people either won’t notice or won’t care. You’d raise more consciousness by wearing a T-shirt with the PCOS logo on it. You would. Trust me on this.
Ah, but you’re going to tell me that you’re making this gesture of facial or axillary hirsuteness, not only to stimulate awareness of your cause, but also to raise money, in the form of sponsorship, to fund research into it. So you’re going to jump on the band wagon like everyone else is doing and make yourself look ridiculous/feel uncomfortable because ‘it’s all in a good cause’ and you’ll feel positive about yourself if you brow-beat a lot of people into giving you money? You’re doing it; that person over there is doing it; so’s my neighbour; and I think the owner of the corner shop said something about it too. So tell me, why should I sponsor you and not them? Or should I sponsor everyone who asks me? Yes, that’s a good idea. I’ll give money I don’t have to random people because they either have no sense of individuality or because they went down the pub and, while in their cups, decided to do this thing (‘Yeah, go on, it’ll be a giggle and Pat at work’s doing it’). I’ll fail to pay my own bills or look after my animals because I’ve agreed to give £20 (or whatever the acceptable sum is) to thirty different people who’ve all guilt-tripped me into sponsoring them, and I feel it’d be churlish to refuse my friend if I’ve agreed to help my colleague, and disloyal to turn down my cousin’s request if I’ve agreed to my friend’s…
The whole concept seems immoral to me. People take advantage of the good nature of their friends and family. ‘Oh, I know you’ll sponsor me, won’t you, Sam?’ they say, and poor Sam feels obliged to say ‘yes’ because it’s a friend who’s asking and a refusal might offend. But Sam is nicer than me, and more easily influenced. I, of course, am a hard-nosed bitch and wouldn’t feel that way even for a second; indeed, no one who knows me well would, I hope, dream of asking me to sponsor them (or their spouse or offspring) to do anything quite so asinine. But just in case I’m assuming my friends and associates know me better than is really the case, may I suggest that you explain to me why this research is so important, and, if I have any spare cash or time or a skill that the charity could use, and I think the cause is a good one, then I’ll give what I can. But don’t, if you value your life, ask me to sponsor you. Because I won’t. On principle, I won’t.
[Good moustache: photo courtesy of Liam Drayson; bad moustache: photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaptainkobold/7578899170/in/pool-36808397@N00]