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Things You Didn't Know About Shaving | The Art of Shaving
11 Things You Didn't Know About Shaving
A wartime must? The trick to winning a gold medal? A sign you’re off the market? Here’s everything you didn’t know about the most important part of your morning routine.
Shaving Fact #1: Hair Growth Does Not Change After Shaving.
Shaving helps hair grow back faster, thicker and darker than before, right? Eh, not so much.
A forensic anthropologist named Mildred Trotter debunked this myth back in 1928, when she asked three college students to shave their legs, ankle to knee, twice weekly for eight months. Using a microscope, she compared each student’s hair growth rate, color, and thickness.
The conclusion: Shaving had no impact on hair’s texture, color, or growth.
Shaving Fact #2: Alexander the Great Believed Beards Could Be Grabbed in Battle, so He Preferred to Shave His Off.
Alexander the Great was an early advocate for shaving, but his preference for a clean-shaven face was purely practical. According to Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, the Greek leader believed beards were “dangerous in combat, where the enemy might grab hold of them.”
Shaving Fact #3: Shaving Eyebrows Was a Mourning Custom in Ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egyptians would often shave their eyebrows when a family cat died as a way to mourn their loss.
Shaving Fact #4: Olympic Rules Call for Either a Full Beard or a Clean-Shaven Face on Wrestlers.
There’s a reason you don't see wrestlers with a five o’clock shadow. Olympic rules require wrestlers to have either a full beard or none at all, as stubble can irritate an opponent’s skin.
Shaving Fact #5: An Olympic Swimmer’s Joke About His Mustache Influenced Other Athletes.
Swimmers, on the other hand, don't have to be clean-shaven, but often are, because body hair can slow them down a bit in the water.
One notable exception is Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympic Games while sporting his trademark thick mustache. He jokingly told the press that the ’stache gave him a competitive edge, as it deflected water away from his mouth. But not everyone got the joke. At international meets the next year, members of the Soviet national swim team all sported mustaches.
Shaving Fact #6: Facial Hair Fell Out of Fashion for U.S. Presidents in the Early 1900s.
If you have your heart set on the Oval Office, you'd better be clean shaven. There hasn’t been a hirsute U.S. president since William Howard Taft was in the White House in 1913, and the last major party candidate to have a beard was Charles Evans Hughes in 1916.
Theories abound, but a persistent one suggests that beards are associated with communists, hippies and very old men who are set in their ways—three things that have turned off many American voters.
Shaving Fact #7: Amish Males Sport Beards to Thwart Suitors.
If you want to know if an Amish man is married, look at his face. Instead of wearing a wedding ring, Amish men stop shaving their beards when they marry. They reportedly continue trimming their mustaches, though, to avoid the appearance of being associated with the military.
Shaving Fact #8: Shaving Became Popular After WWI.
Beards were traditionally popular among soldiers, right up until World War I. All U.S. soldiers received then-newly invented disposable razors and were encouraged to use them, because excess facial hair interfered with the closing and sealing of gas masks.
Shaving Fact #9: The “Shave and a Haircut” Tune Was Used in Covert Wartime Communications.
“Shave and a Haircut” is a musical riff often used for comedic effect, but it served another purpose as well. During the Vietnam War, it helped American POWs communicate covertly with each other.
One captive would knock out the first measure on the shared wall, and if the other captive replied with the correct second measure, it likely meant he was an American and was, therefore, able to communicate using the code.
Shaving Fact #10: A Failed Emperor of Mexico Decided Not to Flee the Country Because He Would Have Had to Shave His Beard.
When his regime collapsed in 1867, the last Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian I, considered fleeing the country. But the proposed plan involved him shaving off his beard, which he felt would make him look undignified, so he stayed put.
Shaving Fact #11: The King of England Fired His Barber and Stopped Shaving Because He Feared for His Life.
For reasons still unclear, Parliament fired the personal barber of Charles I of England. Famously slow to trust others, King Charles never shaved again for fear that a new barber would try to kill him.