Beards.org is honored to welcome Steven to our featured beards section as another member of the beards.org Military Beard Force! While the military services in some countries allow beards, many do not. Those services that prohibit beards, however, seem to motivate legions to grow their beards immediately upon leaving the military. Beards.org is pleased to give all of these military beard growers some special recognition.
Raised the inner city of Philadephia, Steven considers himself to be an urban creature. Steven tells us something about himself here in his own words:
- At age eighteen, I started a six-year tour in the U.S. Marines. During this time I saw revolution, war, and lots of intense training as an infantry Marine.
- After my stint in the Marines, I earned a BA and MA in History.
- Currently, I teach history and Latin in high school and university classrooms.
- I am a fitness junkie. As of late, I have become addicted to CrossFit and am preparing to run in my first marathon in November. My beard and lifestyle reflect the Latin phrase Mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a healthy body).
I run. I bicycle. I lift weights. I have always been an exercise enthusiast; however, I have been bitten by the CrossFit bug. The CrossFit exercise community is nationwide, indeed, worldwide. CrossFit is made up of people who are dedicated to pushing themselves to the limit in an effort to achieve physical fitness. It has made me a better teacher, father, husband, and role model for my students. It has changed my life. CrossFit Tier One is GREAT!
Scroll down to read Steven’s story. Then, be sure to visit Steven’s photo album.
The photos on this page and in Steven’s photo album were provided by Steven and are used with permission. All photos are subject to the site’s conditions of use.
Steven in the Marines: no beard. Steven out of the Marines: BEARD!
What do you think a beard says about the man who grows one?
A beard on a man says strength and confidence and manliness.
Why do you grow your beard now?
Well, I grow my beard now, because I can. In the Marines we could not. And after years of trial and error, I have had some success in creating a beard that pleases me. As a classroom instructor at the high school and university I must project confidence. A beard buttresses my role on the stage of life as a seasoned educator in this regard.
Did anyone in your family have a beard before you?
The only person to have a beard in my family was my old six-foot, six Uncle Jack. He was an old crusty Vietnam Veteran who had one leg blown off by a Viet Cong booby trap. He was the epitome of a grizzled old war-dog. He had an awe-inspiring beard and it added a mystical element to his stature.
Do you remember from childhood ever wanting to have a beard when you grew up?
I recall playing with G.I. Joe action figures back in the 1970s: The kind with real facial hair. So, perhaps that influenced me.
Do you remember when your facial hair started to develop? How old were you?
Facial hair bloomed for me in strength after I finished my time in the U.S. Marines. I saw pictures of me when I was eighteen years old, and I had not one chest hair and a baby face. Now, I have plenty of chest and facial hair.
Did you ever grow a beard before joining the United States Marine Corps?
At what age did you grow your first beard?
At age twenty-four, I attempted to grow my first beard.
What made you decide to grow your first beard?
Having facial hair was an outward sign of my independence after six years of being told what to do and when to do it.
How did your first beard turn out and how did you feel about it?
Not good. It was sloppy and unkempt. I really did not know how to keep a beard. There is a picture of me with my young daughter and my first beard. I would grow a beard and shave it; grow it and shave it. Over and over again, I grew it out often as I was experimenting each time.
What happened to that first beard?
I chopped it off!!!
When did you grow your beard again and what led to your decision to grow again?
When my wife got me an electric beard trimmer at around age thirty, it opened a new world for me and my beard. Off and on over the last few years I would grow my beard and trim it. I have kept a beard for most of the last three years.
In the USMC, how did you feel while you were under regulations prohibiting you from growing a beard and requiring you to shave all the time?
I felt like that was part of the job. So I did not have any problems with facial hair restrictions. After all, I signed up voluntarily.
After completing your service in the USMC, how long was it before you grew your beard?
Pretty much immediately upon receiving my honorable discharge, I grew a beard.
Do you keep your beard all the time now? Or does it come and go?
I now keep a beard year-round. I just started keeping a full beard year-round recently.
If it comes and goes, what are the reasons for its going? How do you feel when it is gone?
A funny story: I teach history at a local high school. In the middle of the last school year, I shaved my beard. The reaction of the students caught me off guard. Nine out of ten students were very vocal in their displeasure at looking at my beardless face. In the words of one student: “It’s like you lost your MOJO. You MUST grow it back!”
If you don’t keep your beard all the time, what would it take to convert you into a “permanent, dedicated, beard grower”?
I am a full-time beard guy now.
You have a full beard now. Is that your preferred beard style?
Yes. Full beard. I think it looks distinguished.
What do you think about other beard styles that you’ve worn?
There are many variables that must be taken into account when a man decides to grow a beard. A beard should not be looked at in isolation. It is one component of his persona; his look should reflect his nature. The choice of well-groomed facial hair must agree with that person’s attitude, personality, and overall physical appearance. These all change throughout a person’s life; therefore, facial hair style may also change.
How do you feel about growing your full beard out more?
About two years ago, I worked for the US Army Special Forces (SF) for two weeks. I helped in the final phase of SF candidate selection. During that two-week period, I lived with a small group of “guerillas” in a simulated guerilla base. The two weeks before I left, and the two weeks that I was “in the bush,” I did not trim my beard at all. Running around the woods with an AK-47 and not showering during that time period was oddly refreshing compared to civilian life. My fellow guerillas commented on the depth of thickness of my beard. One guerilla asked, “Are there people living in that thing?” I had never grown it out that much before. I liked it.
How much more do you intend to let you beard grow out?
My beard hero is Czar Nicholas II. His facial hair was awesome. I want to replicate his style, but in a thicker way. Another beard worth looking at is Captain John Smith from the Colonial Period. I am aiming for something between those two.
Will this be the most that you’ve ever let it grow?
Yes. I am going to not substantially trim it for about a year.
Many guys claim that beards are too hot in the summer heat. Yet you decided to start growing your beard out a lot more right in the middle of a hot summer with no complaints. What’s your take on growing and wearing a beard in the hot sun?
I really don’t have a good explanation for dealing with my facial hair in the summer. There was a time when I did not enjoy having facial hair in the stifling southern summer heat; however, I have grown to not care.
As part of growing your beard out more, you also have raised the cheek line of your beard…going natural with it. What do you think about this change? Do you think you will keep the natural cheek line?
I think the higher growth to well above the jaw bone is much bolder look. I think that I will keep the growth higher than I ever did in the past; however, I may “top it off” with a straight-line cut at a higher level in the future. I am not content with the thickness of my beard as of yet. I will allow my beard to grow thicker, but I don’t want to achieve beard thickness at the expense of having an accompanying slovenly look. I like a thick beard that is well groomed in appearance.
Has your beard ever had any effect on your self-confidence or how you see yourself?
As I have gotten older, I have found that the beard has allowed me to better see myself as an accomplished professional educator. A well-groomed, thick beard lends itself to an appearance of a refined person.
Did you ever think to yourself that you’ve got an outstanding, top-notch beard?
Until recently, I did not. Before beards.org approached me, I recognized that my beard had mojo when my students were upset that I shaved it. They liked it, apparently. And there was another telling incident: I was at a party last year celebrating the Kentucky Derby. A person whom I did not know approached me, looked at me, and said that I was “…a dead ringer for Czar Nicholas II.” Outside of being asked to be on this web site, that was the highest compliment I could have received and the highest that I have ever received from a total stranger.
Do you take a lot of pride in your beard? How do you feel about your beard?
I do like my beard; it projects masculine vitality.
How do others react to your beard?
Usually, I get positive reactions. It is like wearing a nice tie and dress shirt and shoes. Fair or not, people treat you with more seriousness and respect when we present ourselves with dignity. The beard tops it off. I went home to Philadelphia recently and had dinner with friends whom I had not seen in over a decade. One of my friends said: “Wow. Now that’s a beard with purpose!” He was impressed.
Do you get a lot of compliments on your beard?
Yes. See above.
Do you get any criticisms about your beard? If so, how do you respond?
Not too often do I get criticisms. If I do, it is from a beardless man who is no doubt jealous. But I have been called “Ulysses,” “Leonidas,” and “G.I.Joe.” I view these as compliments, really.
What do you like best about your beard?
What I like best about my beard is that it gives me a feeling of masculine maturity and substance. In a world becoming more and more feminized, this is one way to express one’s virility. A trim and sculpted thick beard says at a glance that you’ve been around the block a few times.
Do you have any complaints about your beard?
What have you learned from your beard-growing experiences?
I have learned that growing a beard takes patience and time. Don’t be afraid of experimentation; you will eventually achieve the look you desire.
Would you recommend to other guys that they grow full beards?
YES! Desire is an internally created thing. So, I’d recommend to those who were thinking about growing a beard, but were afraid: JUST DO IT ! And, it is fun to see how others treat you. It is kind of like wearing a tie. People just treat you with more respect.
Who is your “Beard Hero?” That is, whose beard would you like to emulate?
Czar Nicholas II of Russia.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your beard or beards in general?
A beard is the apex of the masculine. Being a strictly manly pursuit, all men should enjoy the rewards of growing a thick, well groomed beard.
How do you feel about being featured on beards.org?
I feel incredibly honored to be featured on beards.org. To be noticed makes me feel good.
What do you think about beards.org?
Beards.org is informative. It helps me to see how others grow their facial hair and serves as encouragement for present and future beard growers.
Click on the image above to go to Steven’s photo album.