Before we begin, I would like to confirm that I am not the bearded lady from the traveling circus. I am however, a man with a mustache. That minor detail has allowed me to make many interesting observations over the past two years. Now I am not going to act like I understand how difficult it is to be a woman, but I do feel that I have a better understanding of the frequent feeling of objectification.
Two years ago, I never would have believed that I would feel the need to tell another man “Hey, my eyes are up here buddy.” Even stranger, could also say that to many women over the past two years. I know that there is an attempt to communicate with me, but it is quite clear that there is some uncontrollable attraction to my upper lip. That has taken some time to adjust to, but is understandable, as it is in close proximity during normal conversation.
There is a significant difference of public attention once you decide to sport a handlebar mustache. The fascination of children is pretty hilarious. The most frequent reaction is to immediately snap their head around, find their parent, and point out the treasure that they have just discovered. Then there are the questions that have to be asked over and over, no matter where I go. Is it real? How long did it take to grow? Do you wax it? I just hope that those questions are still in reference to my mustache.
Now, back to my original comment and this is where things get weird. Adult men, yes adult men stare at my mustache more than any other demographic. I have had a man twice my age stop dead in his tracks at a department store, wait for me to walk down the isle, and, once I got close, say in his smoothest voice “That looks good on you young man.” Well, thank you very much creepy guy. On the interstate a man in a truck passed me, only to quickly hit his breaks. He maintained the same speed beside me, and pulled out his phone to take a picture. In the process he nearly ran himself off the expressway. Let’s be honest, he didn’t care about me or my feelings. He got what he wanted and is going to exploit my mustache photo by sharing it with all of his buddies. Their one track minds are only after one thing. How can they get a piece of my “stache?”
That said, I have also learned to embrace the image I present in public. It has empowered me to be proud of what I look like. To embrace my individualism. I no longer see judgement, laughter, curiosity, disgust, or awkwardness. Now, all I see is someone looking at me…and my amazing “stache” of power!
Sometimes branding is planned and intentional. In my case it happened by sheer coincidence. It does not matter how it happens, it just matters that it does happen. With the tremendous volume of information available today, it is vital to properly brand yourself. What have you done to brand yourself? What is it that makes you unique? How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get people to come back for more? Find your identity. Make it impossible for people to forget who you are. #TurnTheLightBulbOn
By Matt Carnaghi