The purpose of this article is to deepen our understanding of twentieth-century masculinity by considering the social function of facial hair. The management of facial hair has always been a medium of gendered body language, and as such has elicited a nearly continuous private and public conversation about manliness. Careful attention to this conversation, and to trends in facial hairstyles, illuminates a distinct and consistent pattern of thought about masculinity in early twentieth-century America. The preeminent form of facial hair-mustaches- was used to distinguish between two elemental masculine types: sociable and autonomous. A man was neither wholly one nor the other, but the presence and size of a mustache-or its absence-served to move a man one way or another along the continuum that stretched from one extreme to the other. According to the twentieth-century gender code, a clean-shaven man's virtue was his commitment to his male peers and to local, national or corporate institutions. The mustached man, by contrast, was much more his own man: a patriarch, authority figure or free agent who was able to play by his own rules. Men and women alike read these signals in their evaluation of men.
(2011). Mustaches and Masculine Codes in Early Twentieth-Century America. Journal of Social History, 45 (1), 47-47.