A mustache is a man's best friend, at least according to the ironic novelty holiday gift table at Urban Outfitters that's always surrounded by giggling unsupervised tweens and mothers who don't know what to buy their adolescents for Christmas. While in the US the 'stache currently appeals to hipsters and Ron Swanson types who are in on the joke, in some Middle Eastern countries, few things are more serious than a man's ability to grow a thick, robust garden of upper lip hair. Some men are so serious about their mustaches that they're willing to drop several thousand dollars for mustache implants, which I guess makes a mustache the boobs of the face.
The popularity of Turkish mustache implants is a great example of what happens when a really old tradition is enabled by new-ish technology — mustaches have long been prized in many regions of the world as a symbol of virility and strength, since there's nothing more masculine than one's ability to grow hair. CNN summarizes the Middle Eastern modern and historical mustache fascination thusly,
Christa Salamandra, an associate professor of anthropology at City University of New York, said that "traditionally, a luxurious mustache was a symbol of high social status," and had figured heavily in matters of personal honor in the Arab world. Men swore on their mustaches in sayings and folk tales, used them as collateral for loans and guarantees for promises, and sometimes even shaved their opponents' lips as a punishment.
In 2008, militants in Gaza abducted a Fatah opponent and shaved off his mustache to dishonor him, while in 2003, in the lead up to the Second Gulf War, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — a senior aide to Hussein and, like the rest of the former Iraqi leader's inner circle, himself mustachioed — created headlines when he yelled "Curse be upon your mustache!" at a Kuwaiti counterpart at an emergency summit of Islamic states.
So, facial hair: serious business.
But not every man is born blessed with the ability to produce the Monopoly Man mustache of his dreams. And that's where Dr. Pierre Brouhanna comes in. The Paris-based doctor enhances the mustaches of clients from Iran, the UAE, Lebanon, and Turkey for about $7,000 US a pop. Many of the men come with pictures of celebrities they hope their new look can emulate — stache-spiration, if you will. Dr. Brouhanna uses a technique called follicle unit extraction, which takes hair from denser parts of growth and implants them in the mustache area. No word on where, exactly those areas of denser body hair growth might be, but suffice to say, imagining a mustache made of armpit hair is not an appetizing lead-in to a nice lunch.
That's great that rich people can fake looking like how they think they should look using money, and as a cultural denizen of 2012, an era when
everything automatically becomes 2012 FUNNIER if you put bacon or a mustache or a bacon mustache on it, but I'm going to share an unpopular opinion here: mustaches make guys look like walruses and making out with a guy with a mustache feels like going down on someone wearing a a steel wool dental dam.
It's also wryly funny to me that in the West, women are not women unless they're bald as cooked turkeys below their necks, whereas men in the Middle East are culturally pressured to be as hairy as possible. Perhaps we could arrange some sort of body hair exchange.