More than one year after Steve’s beard feature made its debut on beards.org, we have gone back to Steve with a new set of
beard interview questions. Scroll down to read Steve’s new interview. You can see his original beard feature
The photos on this page and in Steve’s photo album were provided by Steve and are used with permission. All photos are subject to the site’s conditions of use.
How have you felt about being featured on beards.org for more than a year now?
Well, first of all I can’t believe that kind of time has passed. It is exciting to go on the site and see myself there.
And to see the number of views I’ve received blows me away. To think some 1,000 people have viewed some of my photos is
flattering. There are some truly outstanding beards features on beard.org and I am certainly proud to be one of them.
What did your parents and grandparents think about your beard feature?
My dad was happy that I mentioned him a few times. It made my grandma smile. Overall they thought it was neat.
What do they think about your beard?
They are supportive of however I choose to look. No one’s ever really said if they prefer it or not.
Has there been any change in the way that you think about your beard?
No, no significant changes. I still enjoy it, and maybe even more so after being on the site.
How about your thoughts about beards in general? Has there been any change? Any new insights?
Honestly I don’t see many beards in my day to day life. Maybe spending the majority of my time on a college campus is the reason for this, perhaps guys my age can’t reach a full beard. So when I do see a beard I’m sure to give a nod. I understand that there is some level of effort put into growing a beard, though it may not seem that way. I guess what I mean is there is a level of dedication to growing a beard, a mental aspect. I certainly think beards are great.
You once planned to let your full beard grow out for an entire year. What happened to that effort?
Unfortunately I hit a roadblock that had nothing to do with personal choice. I’ll touch on that story later.
Have you kept your full beard pretty big most of the time?
I would say the biggest my beard has ever been can be seen on page five of my photo album (the last photos being 191 days).
Generally I’ll let it grow out for a few months before trimming it. I think a beard can be appreciated in any stage of growth,
though a bigger beard does seem to get more looks and words.
What’s it like to be about the only one in your peer group to have the big full beard?
It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about. It does make me stand out and I guess it does make me unique.
Do you think it’s tougher for younger guys to have full beards than older guys? Why?
I think my overall answer is yes. This is something I recently struggled with. A friend of mine was always saying
(in a joking sort of tone), “Steve why are you covering up that handsome face?” And another friend would sometimes say the beard was scary for the ladies. Now I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to have girlfriends who preferred me with a beard, though a tame beard. I do understand how it could be viewed as a little intimidating if someone were to meet me for the first time. Even someone who wants to walk to a different beat can’t deny they are interested in some sort of acceptance. And at a younger age, fitting in is huge. Ultimately you have to do what you want to do.
Why don’t more of your peers grow full beards?
Maybe some of them just can’t? Other than that I really have no idea. Maybe this connects back to a style thing for younger guys.
Do you know if your big full beard has inspired others to grow their beards?
I’d certainly like to think it has! I can’t say anyone has cited me an an inspiration though.
Have you actively encouraged others to grow their beards? Any success?
I was actually just encouraging a roommate of mine last week to let his grow. He said if he could he would,
but he was struggling with some patchy and unconnected areas. With some exceptions I’m not sure I have too many friends who right
now can grow a beard. Maybe we’ll see some changes in a few years.
Do you know if your big full beard has been a source of beard envy for others? Can you tell of any examples?
I have received a few “wow, I wish my beard was like yours,” but I’m not sure if there’s been any envy per se.
What can you say about the commitment it takes to grow and keep a full beard?
I think there is a mental aspect to growing a beard.
I’d hear some people complain about it being itchy in the early stages, so I guess you have to fight through that.
This is talked about in another section of the site, but you have to allow the beard to sort of do it own thing for
a while before trying to shape it. I’m at a point where I don’t think much of the fact that I have a beard anymore than the
fact that I have hair on my head. And sometimes you may feel some pressures to go clean shaven to “fit in”, which ties back
into some of the earlier questions.
How did you handle the situation when the size of your beard caused some conflict with your job?
I worked in a deli for a little bit and had actually always had customer compliments. I was approaching my 190-day mark for beard growth when I was told by the store manager that there had been a complaint about my beard. Supposedly a lady had found a hair in her order. Now I absolutely understand from a customer’s point of view with respect to the sanitation issue. I would want my food to be clean as well. BUT knowing this I was always beyond extra careful. I made sure to stand back from the slicer and was always sure to be watching when I cut. I feel a red hair would be noticeable. Had she really found a hair why didn’t she bring back her food as proof?
I was told I’d have to clean it up and initially was very angry. There really wasn’t any way around it. So I went home and pouted.
The next day I chopped it down, though it was still a fairly decent size. The last four photos on page five of my album were the before and on page six you can see the after.
In addition, you and others were targets of the anti-beard complaints of a specific customer. How did that turn out and how did you feel about being subjected to it?
Well the same lady again complained that I had made no changes to my beard. Looking at my photos, I think it is clear that I did clean it up. I believe there ended up being a third complaint, but I was never spoken to by the store manager. I think they understood that it was
becoming a little silly.
A coworker of mine had a very well-kept beard, close to his face with lowered cheeks, and another coworker had a few weeks’ scruff.
She also complained about them. She clearly just had a vendetta against beards.
It did get to a point where I was starting to feel harassed. Every time I would be waiting on someone I’d think, “Did she complain about me?” It kind of put a damper on the end of my summer.
Following the customer beard complaint, you declared, “The beard will stay loud and proud for all beards across the world!” Would you say that having the big full beard has been a character-building experience?
Ha ha. I do remember saying that. We bearded guys need to stick together. Sure, I would say it has been a character-building experience. When someone is giving you a hard time and trying to make you change yourself, you sometimes have to dig deep to stand by your choices.
As a college student, does the big full beard set you apart? Do you think your professors view you differently or even treat you
differently because of the beard? Have any of them ever commented on your beard?
I think it does set me apart a little. As I mentioned earlier, with a few exceptions I don’t see other beards around campus. No, I don’t think my professors view or treat me differently than other students. Maybe I look more sophisticated to them? There haven’t been any teacher comments with the exception of my advisor saying he remembered me from the year before because of my red beard. I have a teacher I’ve kept in touch with from high school. When I showed him my beard feature, he jokingly called me “the bearded wonder.”
You have been active in the mixed martial arts. How has the beard played out in that arena?
I’d like to think that having a big beard would be a little intimidating when my opponent first sees me stepping into the ring.
I’m sure when I’m grappling, the beard can be a annoying when it’s in someone’s face. I don’t think it softens punches any. My “fighting name” is The Lumberjack. So of course, having the beard is necessary. Some friends of mine came up with that a few years ago.
Would you say that you enjoy your beard? How?
I absolutely enjoy my beard. I’ll always find myself rubbing my face throughout the day. I remember reading somewhere that people do that as a soothing mechanism. I like that it has different colors in it.
I think it looks pretty stylish.
What are some of the best compliments you’ve gotten on your beard?
Some words that stick out to me that people have used are glorious, epic, and awesome. My dentist actually told me that it was
amazing and very full.
Do you get any complaints or criticisms? How do you deal with them?
This past summer I was landscaping and the Guatemalans were always asking me why I had a big beard in the heat of the summer.
I assured them the heat didn’t bother me. When I cut my beard down to a handlebar mustache, they said I looked better and younger
and asked why I didn’t just cut all of it off. Lots of times they laughed at the extreme difference of color between my hair and beard.
I never really felt attacked in any way, but sometimes it was annoying. As far as dealing with that goes I just simply rolled with it.
Aside from the deli incident I’ve only had nice things said to me.
How did the students react to your beard when you served as a substitute teacher in a middle school?
They absolutely loved my beard. I had 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and in every class someone had something nice to say.
This little 5th grade girl came up to me with a huge smile saying how fluffy my beard looked. Some of the guys said they thought
I was a Bruins player! They definitely made my day and made me feel assured in my choice of wanting to be a teacher.
What kind of attention does your beard get at parties and other gatherings?
Recently a guy approached me at a party and asked if I was featured on beard.org. He was very excited when I said that indeed it was me
on there. I think that it was not only a compliment to me, but to the site as well. I’ve had people ask if they could touch it
and I have had people want to take photos with me. I think it is the gateway to starting conversations with people.
What do you make of all the attention that beards get, not just your own?
The first word I think of after reading this question is: interesting. Beards have become sort of a big deal with shows
like Whisker Wars and the No Shave November movement. It seems as though people have strong opinions about beards, whether they like them or not. I, of course, think beards are great, but I’m not sure I could articulate why.
Why does it bother you at times for the beard to make you “stick out”?
Well, personally I’m a fairly shy and reserved guy and I don’t really like bringing attention to myself. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with being noticed. I am of course glad that people have expressed liking my beard and I do appreciate it.
You’ve said that you don’t want to just be known as the guy with the beard. What’s wrong with that? Won’t people see you as more than just the guy with the beard but that the beard makes you more unique?
When you put it like that I would have to agree. I guess this goes back to an idea of being young and searching for an identity and how I’d like to be perceived.
What made you decide to shave off your beard recently? How did you feel about that after you’d done it?
Every now and then I’ll get an urge to make a drastic change and hair and beard cuts are always a guarantee to make you look different.
I just think it’s fun to change it up now and again. One of my roommates told me I had until the end of September to clean up and
I figured I’d do it.
The world all of a sudden became colder, that’s for sure. Initially, for the first few days, looking in the mirror was weird. This was
only the second time I’ve seen my face in the last four years. A guy that is in a few of my classes asked me why I decided to shave.
He said he didn’t even recognize me until he heard me talk. He said my beard has always been a staple in our English classes and that
he felt lost without it. He recently told me that I have very fast growing facial hair.
You said that you got a lot of positive feedback on your beard-free face, but that you’re still a beard man at heart.
That reflects a pretty deep commitment to the beard, doesn’t it?
I do prefer being bearded. I appreciate people saying nice things with or without the beard, though.
You have been supportive of beards.org for years. How do you feel about the site now?
Some four years later I still think beards.org is a wonderful site. The very first time I came across the site in my senior year of high school, I was taught how to create a proper neck line. I have always enjoyed seeing new beard features; the stories just as much as the photos. I think the success stories serve as an inspiration for future beard growers. And it makes me happy to see the number of photos that people have submitted to the gallery. I will certainly continue to be a
Return to Steve’s original beard feature page.
Click on the image below to go to Steve’s photo album.
Steve’s latest photos begin on row two of page six of his photo album.