Girls sporting fake mustaches has been a thing for a few years now. Cardboard cut-out mustaches at wedding reception photo booths, furry-stick-em-on facial wear for birthday parties and sleepovers, and, of course, the good old temporary-mustache-tatt on the side of your finger. And now, thanks to Jenny Lewis’ new music video and the magic of having friends who are also Hollywood A-listers, we’re bringing actually-real-looking fake mustaches into the mix. Lewis is releasing her first solo album in six years, and to drum up some buzz, the musician made a music video of her lead single “Just One Of The Guys” and enlisted famous friends Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart, and Brie Larson to appear in said video.
Lewis got her famous ladies all gussied up in bright-white, sexed-up, menswear-inspired suit jackets and slacks. Hathaway, Stewart, and Larson play back-up in their sexy whites for a few measures of the song and then they do a costume change into track suits, trucker hats, and full-on mustaches. These celebrities are no longer wearing menswear-inspired anything. Now they’re just wearing menswear.
The question becomes, of course, why girls, why mustaches, why now?
When asked to explain her painted-on mustache that she sported at the Sochi Winter Olympics, gold medalist snowboarder Eva Samkova’s answer was simply “I wanted to have fun.” And I think that a lot of the girls that play around with cardboard cut-out mustaches and stick-em-on costume facial wear would give the same answer. It’s a valid answer, but it doesn’t dig deep enough and it doesn’t really answer the question. Okay, so it’s fun, but what is it that’s fun about girls playing around with mustaches?
Here’s what I think. I think the reason girls of late have been playing around with mustaches is because it’s a playful way of pushing boundaries and breaking rules. Drag is a transgressive act. We are so used to watching women worship at The Altar of Everything That Is Traditionally Considered Feminine and it is a cultural shock to watch girls claim something as traditionally masculine as the mustache for their own. Of course, the women who play around with mustache cut-outs and temporary tattoos aren’t committing to the art of drag in the same way that Anne Hathaway and the A-List Gang are in their music video. Which makes sense. Most of the girls who play around with mustaches don’t seem interested in getting into the nitty-gritty of gender politics. Bending gender rules is a lot safer and easier (and usually more wedding photo booth appropriate) than outright breaking those rules.
Not everyone likes girls and mustaches. Even bending those rules makes some people deeply uncomfortable. A girl engaging in traditionally masculine activity is going to rile people up, unless she has the “Oh, she’s doing traditionally masculine things but in a SEXY way” get out of jail free card. Drink all the beer and watch all the football you want, but make sure your hair is fierce and your make-up is on point so that everyone knows you’re not REALLY trying to be a dude, you’re just being a good sport and going along with the program whatever.
There is nothing traditionally feminine about a mustache. It’s not an item girls are supposed to have access to, which is what makes it so awesome that girls have foregone requesting permission and claimed the mustache for playful women everywhere.