November 14, 2014

A Young Man's First Shave and A Different Movember Challenge

A strange wave of joy and sadness hit me when I noticed a can of Barbasol shave cream in a friend's bathroom. I had seen it there before, but this time it took me right back to my early adolescence and those first few times shaving. I've written about that sad rite of passage event for me in previous blog posts. I guess the impact of that time in my life is still very much alive in me.

The feeling of joy was from the memory of all that white and fragrant foam in my hand and then all over my face. And I do mean ALL OVER my face. Somewhere underneath all that white stuff hid a few tender facial hairs signaling, not the need to shave, but the first hint of approaching manhood. I don't think the foam helped me get a better "shave," but it was a helpful guide showing the path the razor had taken.

I can also remember a rather evil green liquid aftershave. When the shaving ordeal was over, I'd put some of this potion on my hands and rub it on my face. I then had to endure the rush of burning pain as the liquid met up with all the dings the razor had left behind. I'm sure it made me smell odd at best, but in my naive adolescent mind it all made me irresistibly manly. my naive adolescent mind
it all made me irresistibly manly.

The sadness in that Barbasol moment was not so much about the painful nicks from poor shaving technique or even the resulting shameful face dotted with little pieces of Kleenex. I felt sad because, in that important moment in my life, I was again left alone to figure out another aspect of manhood. In a way it's like a first menstrual period for a girl; it was an occasion that begged for guidance. My only real guides were the terrible shaving commercials of that era. As it was then and is still the case today, what I saw on the screen was seductive, but really poor training for real life and manhood. Here's an example:

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

If you haven't heard, "No Shave November" or Movember is when men don't shave for 30 days in order to grow a moustache (Movember = Moustache + November). It's a global campaign designed to invite conversation about men's health and to raise funds to improve the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems. Think of it as the male version of the pink ribbon breast cancer campaigns. The Movember Foundation, the leading global organization, has raised $559 million todate and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. If you want to get involved, you can visit the U.S. Movember website or just Google Movember and your city, state, or country. It's a very good cause.'s a different Movember challenge for you.

But here's a different Movember challenge for you. Use the idea of Movember, or just beards, to start a conversation with an adolescent male in your world. Ask him if he knows about Movember. Ask him if he's shaving, how did he learn, and how is it going? Tell him your story of learning to shave and your approach today. If you know the young guy is an under-male-nourished kid, all the better.

Sure, the young dudes can find the information about shaving themselves. However, showing an interest as an adult man in this part of a young man's life, or starting a conversation about this common male issue, carries a lot of weight. It really doesn't matter exactly what you talk about. The important thing is the fact that you are recognizing his emerging manhood and offering some support. In this way, you'll be honoring this young man's small but important rite of passage, and possibly passing along some needed shaving tips.

If you didn't get any good training on how to shave or how to teach a kid how to shave, Shaving Tips for Teen Guys is one of many great websites.

If you have a first shave story, please send it along. I'd love to hear it, and if you're willing, I'll post it in the comments to this post.

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