May 16, 2013

The Small Rites of Passage - Teen Males Shaving

As a young male perched on the brink of manhood, I desperately wanted to participate in the very masculine rite of shaving. Not that it was really necessary, because in truth, I had only the softest beginnings of what would someday be called a beard. Nonetheless, I deemed it necessary to gear up with a small mountain of foamy shave cream and an unforgivably sharp razor  to do bloody battle with my own face.

In my adolescence, there were no men around for training. This was long before the internet, YouTube, and all those digital forms of guidance available today for so many things masculine. All I had for instructions were TV commercials. They always showed severely masculine guys shaving, using horrible shaving technique, and lots of foam. Every commercial also featured a gorgeous and sexy woman fawning over the guy's clean-shaven face. What testosterone-fueled adolescent male wouldn't want that? Of course, those guys had real beards and no visible pimples, which functioned as road bumps for my razor. The commercial below is a good example.

If the video doesn't show up, use this link.

More tragic than the small patches of Kleenex, that constantly dotted my face in those years, is that no one was there to witness and honor the emerging man in me.  There was no one to say, with words or by their actions, "I see you're becoming a man, I honor that step in your life, and I'm here to support you on your journey toward manhood." In so many of the small rite of passage opportunities during my teen years, like shaving, learning to drive, tying a tie for prom, my first teen birthday, and help to understand a constant erection and my compelling need to masturbate, I was left alone to figure out manhood on my own.
I see you're becoming a man, I honor that step in your life,
and I'm here to support you on your journey toward manhood.
It really doesn't take much in those precious, pre-manhood moments, for a teen-male-literate man to make an important difference in a young guy's life. It only takes a comment, maybe a little advice, perhaps even a small private celebration or ritual, to mark his mini-crossing into the world of the men. Males of all ages are naturally hardwired for this interaction. The young guys hunger for it. Older men, whether they realize it or not, in these critical crossing-over moments, can offer young males powerful and transformational blessings. A little instruction doesn't hurt either. It's really high quality man-making action.

Is there a young male in your life, perched on the edge of manhood, who might benefit from a small gesture of you attention, recognition, and support on his journey toward manhood?

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1 comment:

  1. Another great post, Earl. Although, I grew up with a father who was a teacher, counselor and coach, he never taught me all the things you addressed in your post. I remember that commercial and thinking how cool it would be to start shaving. It wasn't long after that age I started shaving on a regular basis, once a week whether I needed it or not!

    In watching that commercial, I don't know how he shaved with such quick strokes and did not cut himself. I don't remember shaving with such quick and deliberate strokes.

    Thanks for posting this.


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