Sylvester: the story behind the beard


Twelve weeks of extraordinary beard growth:
the story behind the beard


Sylvester’s beard story…from the beginning

I have never been obsessed with facial hair or anything like that, but have always been an admirer. I do have some early memories of my father having a mustache. But we were never a “touchy-feely” family and I was not just allowed to reach up and tug on my father’s whiskers, even though I was ever so curious. When I got a bit older and my father’s beard started turning white, he quickly lost the mustache and it is now just a faint memory and a picture in an album. That was my mustache experience. I didn’t really get anything out of it.

At the time, I was about to start kindergarten around 1980-81. Happy Days was a television show that was big and I loved the Fonz with his leather jacket and especially those sideburns! On my first day of kindergarten, I walked in with my purple suede jacket and hair brushed down my cheeks to look like sideburns. I thought the girls would just fall at my feet. Years later, my teacher told me that she thought that I was a little girl at first because of the way that my hair was combed.

Around this time, my parents took me to see pirate movies like Yellowbeard and Blackbeard. I thought they were fantastic. Prior to reaching aget ten, I always chose something with facial hair for my halloween costumes. I also dug ZZ Top for their tunes and their beards. My favourite Smurf was Papa Smurf just for his beard.

Many a Saturday afternoon I was in the bathroom, drawing sideburns or a goatee on my face with a magic marker. My friends always said that I would look good with a mustache. I couldn’t wait to grow one. I think that I was about eleven when black hairs started sprouting from my chin. My oldest sister would pay me a dollar for each one she could pluck with the tweezers (she wanted to be an aesthetician). After about a month, my chin became irritated as the black hairs were growing in regularly then. So I graduated to my sister’s pink razor.

Two years later, I could boast a fuller beard at age thirteen than could our 26 year-old eighth grade teacher. I had some girlfriends who would tease me about being a man and all macho. Then they would ask me to buy them beer. I used to buy beer for most of the seniors at our school, so having a beard was not only a feeling of maturity, but also one of belonging, to be accepted by seniors as a lowly ninth grader. Wow.

As a kid, I always used to flip through my older sisters’ yearbooks and see pictures of bearded teens and just think that I wanted to look like that by the time that I would be in high school. In grades ten and eleven, most of the guys at our school would have regular beard growing contests. We would play daily and weekly with the girls being the judges. For two years, I won a lot of lunch money that way. It was good feeling.

I had a few friends who actually paid me to carve their initials in a short stubble beard of mine for a week, like basketball players do their numbers on their heads. Yes, it was like we were drunk on testosterone or something. We just had such good-natured fun with those beard-growing contests. It didn’t matter who could bench press 300 pounds, or who was 6 foot, 3 inches and who was
4 foot, 11 inches. In this sense we were all equals.

My friends would usually compliment me on my beard and tell me that I wouldn’t be anything special in a couple of years. I used to love that they thought I was special for growing a beard. I’ve seen some of them since — close to age thirty now — and I am still special, as some of them still barely shave.

My first big beard experience came when I was around seventeen. I had just broken up with a serious girlfriend after two years and wanted nothing to do with women. For some reason, anytime I grow a beard it keeps females at bay. So I grew my hair for a year and grew a full beard for three months. I would then experiment with the beard in trimming and style, and colouring. This was one of the happier times of my life. I don’t know if that has because of the lack of female problems in my life or just the fact that I was carefree, growing my beard, not caring about females, and just being concerned about how my friends and I were all going to get to the concert and if there’d be enough beer.

At one point during that year to year-and-a-half, a female friend’s dad approached me one night and said that he didn’t agree with a 30 year-old man hanging out with his 18 year-old daughter. I let him know that his daughter was a grade older than me. He didn’t buy it and asked me to leave. As time passed, I cut my hair and trimmed the beard back to a short goatee. Everyone complimented me on this look and said that it suited my face. I kept this look for most of my twenties, with the odd seasonal beard that I would grow, but never for more than a month.

Girlfriends have always complained about the full beard, but put up with it, and absolutely loved it when it was gone. In my twenties, male friends have been about 50/50, some liking the beard and some telling me how thick and gross and unkempt it was — which was not true at all — just remarks from friends with weak beards themselves.

I think back fondly to my girlfriend when I was 19. She had a slew of little brothers and sisters. They would all pile in my lap and rub my chin or my neck or the underside of my chin. Then they would just look at my stubble in awe and ask me questions. I loved it. I don’t know if I will ever have kids, but I must say that it would be cool to shave with a daughter or son. You know what I mean: just lathering them up, making it more of a bonding experience with dad.

I have had people not recognize me when I grow a beard or when I shave, my parents being the funniest of the bunch. It’s great when your own mom has to triple check if it’s you. When I shaved completely this time last year, I actually got carded at a liquor store. I was 28, with the required age being 19 here in my province of Canada.

For the most part, I would say that beards are not too commonly accepted in any Canadian society that I have been a part of. Most men and almost all women clearly seem to not like them. I am judged on my appearance and am aware that in human resources in most of the jobs I’ve worked, there is a rating for neat appearance. I do not feel like I would pass that rating right now.

If females do choose to look at me, they may give only a dirty look. If there is an empty seat next to me, I find people will choose to stand rather than sit next to me. If I ever use the webcam (cam2cam) with someone on msn, they immediately disconnect, even if I have advised them in advance that I have a big beard. One girl in Perú said that it looked nice. She said that it didn’t matter what other girls said or thought, that she liked it. She then wished me a nice night said that she had to go. Then she removed me from her contact list.

I guess this is why I am growing this beard as a deterrent to females. It just gets really frustrating. I still have cheekbones and a cleft chin under here. It’s just that nobody is choosing to look. I look forward to when people may strike up a conversation with me or a female asks to tug on my beard. I enjoyed reading some of the more positive experiences from this web site. It gave me something to look forward to. I do like my beard and am totally committed to getting to the three-month mark and then breaking that. I am honoured to be a part of this web site, too.

I started growing my beard in the winter, which is especially tough for me because I get very dry skin in this season. During the first month, it was a little easier to moisturize my skin. But as it grew in thicker, the skin surrounding my beard was extremely dry and itchy. Believe it or not, I had a problem with split ends in my beard. A a gentle conditioner, however, solved that. I would also try and have an extra shower or two and drink more water. There really were so many sleepless nights during which I was tossing and turning. Or I had to have a 3:00 AM shower, then just to have a 4:00 AM shower. I even went to a dermatologist. But before I knew it, my skin had sorted the problem out on its own. My skin had settled into the fact that it had beard covering it. There really many nights that I just wanted to shave it completely off so that I could get a good night’s rest. But am I ever so glad I didn’t. Hair today, gone tomorrow — I am glad I stayed committed.

I owe a lot to this site for giving me inspiration to grow this beard and to think that maybe my story or tips will be helpful to others, like many of the site’s success stories and featured beards have inspired me. I have to quote my step mom because I want to see this mantra on the web site somewhere — I feel that they are golden words for the site and an encouragement to males everywhere: “IF GOD DIDN’T WANT YOU TO HAVE HAIR ON YOUR FACE, HE WOULD HAVE MADE YOU A WOMAN”.

Be sure to also read