The recent spate of deliciously retrospective television viewing has been catnip to this 1970s child. For years I have been explaining to Gen Y and Gen Z lasses why I actually enjoy the eye candy during ‘Movember’ due to my love of the moustachioed man. These young gals, used to dating men who have laser removed any errant hairs off their body for fear of displaying a whiff of testosterone, shake their heads in bewilderment and wonder aloud at my peculiar attraction to this dated facial hair style. But I know why I love this look. Two words: Dennis Lillee.
Watching ‘Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War’ was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. My husband was intrigued that this non-sport-watching woman could name all the players in episode one. But I reminded him that those halcyon days of cricket were the soundtrack to my childhood. I remember playing with my Barbies in front of our tiny, boxy Panasonic television, as Dad cracked open a KB and urged Lillee and Chappell on - and I would have been taking in all that magnificent visual imagery by osmosis. I remember watching Lillee fly down the wicket, luscious locks lifted by the wind, sweat glistening on his luxuriant chest hair, sunlight glinting off his gold chains, and teeth flashing under his thick moustache. And I thought - that’s a man!
I could run down a list of similarly manly men that I still look at and think, “phoar”: Tom Selleck, Robert De Costello, Sean Connery, George Negus, Burt Reynolds (in his glory days – not now!!!). All the same man - moustache, chest hair, glint in the eye, rugged. Think of them busting out of their tight 1970s shirts, seductively unbuttoned to the waist. Their jeans were tight around the waist, and flared out magnificently over their platform boots. Or they’d be wearing stubbies and double plugger thongs... actually, forget the stubbies (let’s all agree that was a bad look).
Could it be that my idea of manly perfection was set by those first images I saw on television as a child? They do say that we are sponges in those formative years. Is the look of our day, the fashion from our formative years, the look that then forms our ideal of perfection? And if that’s the case, will my daughter in 2030 be lusting after men with Justin Beiber floppy hair, doe eyes, and spray tanned hairless chests? God help her. But God also help the women whose ideal was formed in the 30s at the picture shows: they’ve probably been searching in futility for Cary Grant lookalikes strolling the suburban malls of Australia. I guess they are in the same boat as those eighties girls dreaming of Simon le Bon look-alikes in puffy pirate shirts and black eyeliner. Or Baby Boomers searching online dating sites for men with mop-top haircuts, mod suits and Liverpudlian accents.
At least I have 30 days in Movember...