Christopher Isherwood vs Moustaches

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How much did Christopher Isherwood hate men’s grooming trends in the 1970s? So much that there’s actually an entry for “Isherwood, Christopher: Personal life: dislike of long hair and beards” in the index of Liberation, Isherwood’s diaries from 1970-1983. More thoughts on the book itself in the June 2017 Books post, but for now, let’s just bask in the glorious pettiness of the below:

April 24, 1971

He has a weak messy moustache—how profoundly this era of face hair repels me, physically and psychologically, and I probably shan’t even have the satisfaction of outliving it!


August 16, 1971

Nearly every day, Don makes some remark, half-jokingly referring to the fact that I don’t find him attractive in a beard. He thinks it is a kind of obstinacy and maybe it is. But at least I am consistent. I find beards, considered as sex adornments, repulsive—no matter who wears them. I find something peculiarly indecent about a beard on a nude. And I am increasingly getting a hate on shoulder-length hair and nearly all moustaches—the thicker the worse. I yearn for a new age of crew cuts.


September 2, 1971

Don Howard showed up from Baltimore, exactly the same, except for an unbecoming blond moustache. Paul Wonner has grown a very unbecoming beard. Bill Harris also appeared, from San Diego where he is visiting his mother. His figure is still all right and he has neither beard nor moustache, but, oh, his face is so nervous and weary, a sad anxious queeny face.


December 16, 1971

That was the day Don finally shaved off his beard. I am so happy to get seven-eights of his dear face back again; he still has a fairly thick moustache.


July 7, 1972

Nearly everybody has big whiskers, most have moustaches, many have beards. I yearn for a new Razor Age.


August 26, 1972

Just before breakfast, Don shaved off his moustache, as a birthday gesture. He hates himself without it and says he is now sure he must always have one. I prefer him without it, because I hate to see his (or anybody else’s) mouth hidden. Don claims that the moustache hides the lines around his mouth. I love it, I mean his mouth, with or without lines. But I had to admit that his mouth looked funny for the first few hours because he was so terribly conscious of its bareness.


September 9, 1972

Don still hasn’t started to let his moustache grow again, as he threatened to. He is so beautiful without it—and so infinitely much more revealed. Why does he have to mask himself? The irony of it is, most people simply haven’t noticed that he shaved it off; I am the only one who really minds and is frustrated by that silly superimposition of hair.


May 19, 1974

Don marked his birthday yesterday by having most of his hair cut off and by shaving off his moustache. He looks much more handsome, interesting, formidable and aggressive without the hair. Also younger. The truth is that the long hair, beautiful as it was, seemed a bit absurd and unworthy of Don as a person. That elaborate coiffure would have been quite suitable for someone of Don’s age or far younger, provided that that someone was no one in particular, just a plain face that needed an amusing frame. Don’s doesn’t.


December 31, 1975

[Swami] had noticed what the vast majority of people have entirely failed to notice—including Don’s parents—that Don has cut his moustache off. I still think it’s a great improvement and makes him look younger.

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