My Sincere Contempt For Ironic Mustaches

Okay, hipsters. I’ve got some beef with you. It’s not your plaid and skinny-denim uniforms that make you look like the world’s sickliest lumberjacks. As far as fashion goes, that’s not so crazy. It’s not your insane willingness to pay four dollars for a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon driving up the price of cheap beer. That’s your own dumb fault, and you can deal with the consequences. It’s not even your scoffing derision at any music or film that attains some sort of mainstream popularity. Feel free to hate things that are great. Your scorn does not diminish my enjoyment of Bruce Springsteen or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. What I really can’t stand are the mustaches.

I am not, I repeat, not anti-mustache. American history has a rich tradition of mustache excellence. Teddy Roosevelt. Zorro. Hulk Hogan. John Waters. Mario. Luigi. Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds. Sam Elliot in Roadhouse. Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski. But those mustaches were all sincere. They had heart and soul. And more importantly, they looked good.

From Salvador Dali’s malleable ‘stache to Captain Morgan’s boozy crumb catcher, all viable mustaches share one trait. They all accomplish the mustache style that they attempt. Not so with hipster mustaches. They’re patchy and too blonde. They have gaps in the middle that make it look like a motorcycle could jump from one side to the other. Now, there is no shame in poor mustache capability. My own ‘stache is pretty weak. The only reason I have it at all is because my beard would look a little too Amish without any hair on my upper lip. It’s not great, but it serves a purpose.

If your hairstyle goals are unattainable, though, you should cut your losses and figure out a new ‘do. It’s that simple. Nicolas Cage wouldn’t have a credible afro, so he sticks with the weird hairline he has. If your mustache doesn’t grow in, it’s not so bad it’s good. It’s just so bad. There is nothing ironic about something that just stinks. The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t ironically lose a lot of games last season. They weren’t a good basketball team. They were totally aware of it, but self-awareness doesn’t equal cool. Just because you know your mustache looks dumb doesn’t mean you’re playing a joke on the world. It still means the world has played a joke on your face.

Irony, at its core, is about an occurrence that defies expectations. It is ironic when Oedipus unknowingly engages in a sexual relationship with his own mother. It is ironic when Romeo kills himself, believing Juliet to be dead. There are only a few ways in which a mustache could represent irony. Like, a really pretty lady with a bushy ‘stache would be ironic. Ditto for a baby. Here is the only way your mustaches could be ironic, hipster dudes:

You grow your thin, crappy mustache for years. It is, for some reason, your pride and joy. At the same time, your girlfriend has been working on a full sleeve tattoo of birds and anchors and Radiohead lyrics. This year, for Christmas, you decide to shave your mustache and sell the hair to a company that makes facial wigs, assuming those are a thing. You use that money to purchase a gift certificate to your girlfriend’s favorite tattoo parlor so she can complete her sleeve with four cans of Pabst laid out like Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup print.

At the same time, she is off having her arm cosmetically amputated so she can do a lucrative niche photo shoot for and make some money to buy you a fair trade mustache comb plated with organically mined gold flakes. On Christmas morning, you trade gifts, only to realize she has no place for her new tattoo, and you have no mustache left to comb. Boom! Irony!

In conclusion, if you are a guy with gauge earrings and tight pants who grows a thick, full mustache, I salute you. I am even envious of your hirsute skills. You keep the spirit of the (wikki wikki) wild, wild west (or at least a truck stop) alive in your urban environment. However, if you’re a snarky jerk who doesn’t even have the decency to grow out a decent ‘stache, I hope you lose your facial hair in a wheat thresher. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. TC mark

image – © ivar


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  • Alkaline Suicide

    Hah! Shout out to suicidegirls!! Most of us have both our arms though… Just saying.

    • Guesty

      is there potential for nudes to be posted, in this situation

    • Guest

      change “suicide” to “ugly” and it becomes more accurate

  • Jason Ham

    Love you josh, but this is RUDE.

    As a relatively hairless boy who likes bears, I deal with enough facial/body hair snobbery from hairy people as it is. Nexxxxxt  lol

    Also Movember is probably the worst time to make an article making fun of people trying to grow moustaches hahaha

    • Kevin Kelly Kenkel

      yeah! bears!

      • Jason Ham

        woof lol

  • CUinNYC

    You are aware it is Movember and many of the staches you see are to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer, right?

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think Movember mustaches are ironic though. I think they fall under what Josh believes to be sincere, well-meaning, purposeful mustaches.


    A true hipster girl would never tattoo Radiohead lyrics onto her body, PLEASE.

    • hunter ray


      • Nikki


  • Abbeyfint

    This is fucking hilarious.

  • Marina


  • Aladin Sane

    I’m going to start a gang. We’re going to go out into the night in Williamsburg and start SHAVING motherfuckers. This shit needs to END.

  • Andrew Farr

    Going to start referring people to this article simply for the unmistakably clear definition of the word “irony”.

  • hunter ray

    hating on the ambiguous and not at all defined collection of people that are ‘hipster’ has gained a lot of my sincere contempt. so bored.

    • Jason Ham

      hi hipster. u have a rly funny twttr acct <3 

      • hunter ray

        gee thanks hason ham :D hi

      • hunter ray

        but would a hipster be gathering all of his old video games together to trade in for elder scrolls skyrim? I DON’T THINK SO.

      • Jason Ham

        lolllllllll elder scrolls are you unemployed? those games destroy my life

    • leigh


  • ebaltz (robaltz or james)

    yeah for the irony in the modern version of o. henry’s the gift of the magi. 

  • Gregory Costa

    I would have called this A Mustache Deride.

  • Anonymous

  • Tweedledee

    yo so irony is also the mode of communication where you say the opposite of what you mean, like when you ironically say a chipper “nice day, isn’t it” when it’s raining outside and what you mean is “shitty day, huh.”

    so an ironic moustache could be one that says “i am the kind of dude who wears a moustache!” when what you mean is “haha jk i’m totally not that kind of dude” I ADMIT it’s PROBLEMATIC but it doesn’t mean it’s not-at-all ironic

    • a.

      no. just no.

    • Jay

      Yo, that would be some weak sarcasm, bro. Not irony.

      • Tweedledee

        look it up, bro.

        first definition of irony in the OED:
        a. A figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used; usually taking the form of sarcasm or ridicule in which laudatory expressions are used to imply condemnation or contempt.
        incidentally it is also the second definition (“an instance of this”). no big deal.

      • Josh Gondelman

        Great. If we’re going to go by the first dictionary definition only, let’s use all the words in it. Next time someone’s mustache is a figure of speech, I will recant everything I’ve written here. If a dude shaved “this is not a mustache” into his mustache, I’d be 100,000,000 percent onboard.

      • Tweedledee

        oh, hi josh! so obviously you knew what ironic meant because your title is funny. “my sincere contempt for ironic mustaches” – funny because sincere is the opposite of ironic, obvs. but sincere is only the opposite of the verbal irony i was talking about, not the type you were talking about, which is cosmic irony blah blah blah yah i know literary terms are boring.

        but anyway all i’m sayin’ is you are incomplete in your catalog of reasons to hate ironic mustaches. “YOUR MUSTACHE IS NOT A FIGURE OF SPEECH,” incidentally, is a great thing to yell at fuckers with ironic mustaches.

        but your article is all like “it is not ironic that you have a mustache” and accurately so. but it does not sufficiently bitchslap dudes who say “i have this mustache ironically.” which is different, yes?

      • Josh Gondelman

        Agreed! I have nothing but respect and admiration for your thoroughness!

      • Tweedledee

        oh yeah and re: not a figure of speech, i’m totally outing myself as an epic loser here, but literary critic linda hutcheon wrote a great book on verbal irony that has an awesome section on why the apocalypse now helicopter scene uses Wagner’s music “ironically.” while way more academic citation than this article on mustaches needs, it’s a good example of how the OED definition is inadequate bc irony can take non-verbal forms (even verbal irony, yah, it’s super confusing). i’m going to slink off and die now, suffocating beneath my tomes of literary criticism

  • Julian Assange


  • J R

    whoa is it 2007 again already??

    • Gregory Costa

      You guys have no clue what’s going to happen to MJ in a few years…and I’m not going to ruin the surprise, but we may or may not have a black president on our way.  Ooh, and the war in the Middle East is going to end in a few months (just kidding!)

      • Nalah


  • WildWestSEO

    I support you and your contempt of the ironic hipster stache.

  • diana

    what are you talking about? hipsters love springsteen and harry potter. god i’m so sick of this type of humor.

  • Gp9hwg

    stopped reading at “okay, hipsters”

  • Dave P

    How do you feel about ironic combovers? Its power is more or less untapped.

    • Josh Gondelman


  • breemeup

    The one redeeming quality of this article was the O. Henry reference. But seriously. So sick of the hipster bashing that goes on, most of it is so off the mark. It’s been done.

  • Anonymous

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  • Josh Gondelman

    Sorry. I know you guys all were into making fun of hipsters before it was cool. My bad.

  • LavishLady


    All that mustache memorabilia often sold at Urban Outfitters is becoming quite popular (one might even say….mainstream). Huh, isn’t that strange? (I almost said ‘ironic’, but decided against it to potentially avoid another “IMPROPER USE OF IRONY RAWR” debate).

    I just don’t understand how hipsters can have any sort of common characteristics at all since that seems to be the very thing they reject. Doesn’t similarity cancel out obscurity? Within that culture at least…

  • James

    Gift of the Magi shout out!

  • Guy

    This was surprisingly awesome.

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