Friday, December 17, 2010

Mustache Madness: A Sequel

Nate wants me to write a follow-up of one of my first posts, Mustache Madness. It's a topic that is very near and dear to many BYU student's hearts. As a brief recap, BYU dress code states that the only permissible form of facial hair on men (and presumably women as well, although I don't think they come out and say it) is the mustache. Were I capable of it (which, thankfully, I am not), I would probably grow a beard and then try to take a test. But I would imagine that while bearded men are an affront to the Lord and his educational institution, bearded women are just sad. Add that to the list of double standards propagated by the Church Educational System.

The people in charge of making and enforcing these sorts of policies readily admit that they can't think of any real reason for this restriction, which was imposed in the sixties and not updated since. This then begs the question: Why not change the policy yourselves? Apparently, it's either not occurred to these people or the policy has an addendum that says "Must Not Be Changed Or Reversed Under Any Circumstances Whatsoever." By their logic, jeans of all shapes, colors, and varieties should still be outlawed and women should still not be allowed to wear pants. But they recognized those policies as outdated and changed them accordingly, and for some reason, they are unwilling to be so flexible when it comes to the mustaches.

The BYU Honor Code administrators have, in fact, made a number of updates to the honor code over the years. Capris, shorts, flip-flops, and sweatpants are now allowed on campus, where ten or twenty years ago, they were not. For some reason, they have failed to update the facial hair policy.

 As a result of this questionable policy, I frequently see men with ill-advised mustaches walking around Provo. Invariably, I am tempted to ask them a series of questions related to their poor choice in facial hair:

-Why the mustache?
-Do you think the mustache looks good, or is it just the only form of facial hair you're capable of growing?
-Have you ever had any facial hair of any kind before this?
-What sort of impression do you think your facial hair makes on the opposite sex?
-Are you making that sort of impression on purpose? Really?
-Are you trying to be ironic?
-Do you own a mirror?
-You are aware that you look like a fourteen year old Mexican boy, right?
-I saw a nun in Italy with a more impressive mustache than that.
-I saw a ten year old girl in Italy with a more impressive mustache than that.

I'm aware that the last two items on the list aren't technically questions, as such, but I still feel they merit mention. On a related note, there are some Italian women out there with very formidable mustaches. Mustaches that the BYU Honor Code Office would do well to fear. 

The sad truth of the matter is that most people do not look like Brad Pitt or Jude Law do when they have mustaches. Most people look like your creepy uncle who you never wanted to spend time with because he always made you feel distinctly uncomfortable and/or Doctor Phil. Either way, take a good look at your life. 

It's time again for everyone's favorite feature.

This is allowed at BYU:

This is NOT allowed at BYU:

Really, BYU? You wouldn't let your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ take a test at the testing center because of his facial hair? Or, I suppose you'd bend the rules for him. But let me ask you this, BYU. Jesus is supposed to be the ultimate example, right? Who are you to say that doesn't extend to his facial hair? By making your policy, you are saying that Jesus's facial hair is immoral and distracting. Have fun defending that in the afterlife.

This is allowed at BYU:

I find this SO depressing. I always thought Seth Green was better than this.

But this is NOT allowed at BYU:

You know who that is, BYU Policy Makers? That's Brigham Young. The same Brigham Young, in fact, that your university is named after. And what is that on his face? Why, I do believe that it is a beard. Quite the beard, in fact. That's a larger beard than Jesus's, and it's larger than any Italian woman's beard I ever saw. You may have even noticed that Brigham Young, per this picture, does not even HAVE a mustache. If you inspect his upper lip, you will find that it is bare. Brigham Young, the founder and namesake of this institution, spent a large part of his adult life not abiding by the BYU honor code.

To further prove my point, this is allowed at BYU.

This is NOT allowed at BYU:

Given that BYU is a Christian institution, I expect that you all know who that is. That's God. God, who LDS people believe is a tangible person with a physical body and would therefore probably be capable of shaving if he felt that there was any need for it. God is invariably portrayed in LDS art and film etcetera as having a beard. If having a beard was in any way unacceptable, do you really think our Lord and Creator would have one? Probably not. This is the same being who built us, saw how horrifying human genitalia is, and then decided that clothes were a necessity for humanity at large. He's been making the dress and grooming standards since the world began. Shockingly, I don't think there's anything in any book of scripture that has ever been made known that condemns beards but condones mustaches. 

I expect that the argument would be that times have changed. And that would be correct- times have changed. But if times have changed before, why is it then reasonable to assume that times have not changed since the 1970's, a good forty years ago? My answer to you, my friends, is that times have changed rather dramatically since the 1970's. Not only filthy hippies and trash have beards these days. But only hipsters, porn stars, sex offenders, and societal outcasts just have mustaches. Given the generally extremely conservative nature of BYU, I would be surprised if the administration wanted any of those people attending school here. But that's who you're inviting, BYU policy makers. Think about it. 


  1. I agree with you that facial hair, especially mustaches, is kind of gross and that there should be some revisions to the dress and grooming section of the honor code. But I have to let you know that when I was at BYU-I there was a serious re-haul of the honor code. A group of students was asked to do it and then take it to the board of directors. My roommate was a part of this process. I was surprised at the time this process took, and some of the silly, or so I thought, policies they decided to keep, until she explained the reasoning behind them, and then it made sense to me. But you say that the BYU policy hasn't changed since the 60's and I would be shocked to find out this is true.

  2. Just the facial hair policy hasn't changed. They've made other changes to the honor code and dress and grooming standards (students were recently allowed to start wearing flip-flops on campus, etc), but the facial hair thing is something they refuse to change.

    That was kind of my point, actually. They've changed certain other things that everyone agreed were silly and outdated, but they won't change their facial hair policy, despite acknowledging that there's not an actual reason for it.

    For some reason, the facial hair standards specifically have not been changed since Spencer W Kimball's time (which I guess was the 70's, but still. It's been a while). The BYU Honor Code office is actually pretty good about moving with the times on every single issue except for this one.

    Per a friend of mine and fellow BYU student, 'Steve Baker, director of the Honor Code office, spoke on the topic.
    “There is nothing that I’m aware of that lends itself to an explanation,” he said. “I would suggest that you live the standards and do it on your own initiative because you’ve given your word that you would live it.”'

    I feel that parts of his line of reasoning are valid. BYU students have agreed not to have beards, so they should abide by their commitment. I absolutely agree. But the fact that the director of the Honor Code Office himself has no idea why this policy is in place really makes me wonder what the deal is.