In recent years, the mighty mustache, hero of the upper lip, has found itself more closely aligned with comical cops than with the esteemed mustachioed men of history. A symbol of both man’s virility (it takes some testosterone to grow all that hair) and attention to appearance, the mustache has been a matter for debate for thousands of years.
It's said (on quasi-reliable websites, at least) that in ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Teqikencola so disliked the concept that he forbade anyone under his rule from growing a mustache. Today, discussion is a little less dramatic and a lot more open but even among those who find mustaches sexy, they’re a little bit of a joke.
All mocking aside, mustaches have a rightful place in cultural and artistic history. In addition to the many thousands of stiff portraits that have been painted of gruff, mustachioed military men, the mustache has been a form of expression for artists themselves, from Rembrandt to Mark Twain to, maybe most famously, Salvador Dali. For Dali, whose mustache inspired its own book (the aptly named, Dali's Mustache), facial hair was one part branding tool and one part functional – he used it to paint. Genius or kind of gross? I can’t decide.
In today’s less mustache-centric society, at least one group is celebrating all things facial hair. Extremely Hungary, a year-long festival of Hungarian arts based in New York and Washington, D.C., is sponsoring “The Most Fabulous Mustache Growing Contest Ever.” Contestants must start clean-shaven (before photos are key) and beards are strictly forbidden. Sideburns and the use of mustache “product” are, however, allowed. The owner of the “most fabulous” mustache wins a roundtrip for two to Budapest. If you’re interested in entering, start growing. The deadline is in less than two weeks – April 13th.
Yes, it’s still a little bit of a joke. But the reverence for Hungarian history, in all its mustachioed glory, is very real. And who knows: the contest could very well turn up Salvador’s rightful heir to the glamorous mustache throne.
[Cowboy mustache by Flickr user a4gpa under Creative Commons license.]