Hair today

Lauren Rosenthal ’12 is an editorial intern at the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Julie Brown

Julie Brown

Ryan Sarsfield ’12MESc submits his mustache-beard combination to scrutiny by the judges. View full image

According to unsubstantiated student lore, the annual mustache contest at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies dates all the way back to 1900, when FES was founded—back to the days when it was a forestry school, plain and simple, and young men spent weeks in the woods learning about timber and growing facial hair.

This year’s edition, the ’Stache Bash, took place on March 3. Organizer Danielle Rappaport ’12MF had put out flyers encouraging her fellow students to grow “bold” mustaches, but she also welcomed the “wonderful, artistic, creepy, or pathetic.” Some 20 daring foresters accepted the challenge. Their entries ranged from wild to groomed, modest to intricate: muttonchops, bushy beards, the “truck driver,” faux. Flannel shirts were the new black.

The pageantry was not limited to creatively cultivated whiskers. A duo of trained “bairs”—Bryant Cannon ’12MEM and Matthew Decker ’12MEM, in ursine costume—led by Jason Clark ’12MFS, in woodsman attire, delivered an FES-themed rendition of Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song.” Notions of drag ran both ways. Eliza Cava ’11MESc, wearing her great-grandfather’s hat and a real-human-hair mustache, styled herself a “dapper gentleman.”

Despite the chilly temperatures, Alex Barrett ’12MF and Kris Covey ’16PhD showed up in shorts and tank tops, with bushy beards painted white. They had an environmental mission. As today’s FES students know, the “albedo effect” is the way light-colored surfaces (like the polar ice caps) reflect radiation (like the sun’s heat). So Barrett and Covey endorsed the “albeardo effect.” “You really wonder what each individual person can do to fight global warming,” Barrett explained. “Having a white thing all over your face to keep sunlight from warming our precious earth is better than recycling.”

The three volunteer judges deliberated carefully, inspecting and stroking each contestant’s facial hair as the crowd dined on free pizza and beer. In the finale, the judges granted Barrett and Covey the Creepy Award, and the lumberjack-and-bear trio took home the Closest to the Real Forest Award. Cava, appropriately, won the Dapper Gentleman Award.

As for the Boldest ’Stache Award and the Pathetic Award, they’ll have to wait till next year.  

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