10.13.10

Why Don't the Miners Have Beards?

The miners are alive and well—and, much to many people’s surprise, looking fabulous. Constantino Diaz-Duran on how they emerged so clean-cut after two months underground.

Life half a mile under the earth’s crust was undoubtedly rough for the Chilean miners who’ve begun to surface today. But in a clear example of how the power of human vanity can be as strong as our will to live, most of them have emerged clean-shaven and camera-ready. In fact, many of them appear more clean-cut than one might expect a miner to look after a typical day at work.

Gallery: Chilean Mine Rescue

The first images we received from their underground refuge, 17 days after they were first trapped, showed dirty faces and unkempt beards. This alarmed some family members, who said that while they were glad to see their loved ones alive, they were concerned about the toll the ordeal was taking on their bodies—and their personal appearances. (Others seemed to like the facial hair—the sister of one of the miners told one Spanish-language newspaper that she thought her brother’s new mustache was “handsome.”)

Watch Live Video of the Chile Miners Rescue

As it turns out, the rescuers have been working daily over the past two months to help the trapped miners keep up with basic hygiene and grooming. They’ve been sending necessities such as toilet paper and toothpaste down the shaft, as well as making sure each miner received approximately 10 gallons of water per day to clean himself, along with soap and shampoo. It was one of many small efforts made to normalize life for the men underground.

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And then, just a few days ago, as they prepared to make their final push for the surface, the 33 workers found a surprise inside their supply capsules: shaving cream and razors. Knowing that the world would be watching when they finally arrived above ground, they each gave themselves clean shaves. And indeed, the men emerging from the ground today appear almost dashing in their wraparound sunglasses, tousled hair, and smooth, scruff-less chins, giving the dramatic spectacle just the sort of Hollywood ending the world was hoping for.

Constantino Diaz-Duran has written for the New York Post, the Washington Blade, and the Orange County Register. He lives in Manhattan and is an avid Yankees fan. You'll find him on Twitter as @cddNY.