I recently was alerted to an online rant by a young lady. She stridently expressed her absolute and utter loathing of beards and body hair. According to her preferences, all traces of them should be removed from men. Interestingly, facial hair and body hair are two of the main male secondary sex characteristics, which are physical features that distinguish men from women. In essence, she was screaming for men to be more similar to women. What good is that? The physical differences between men and women should be celebrated rather than obliterated. Grow your beard!
In a recent comment on this blog, Joseph Alexander suggested that perhaps not all are worthy of the beard. While this site’s unrelenting message is to promote beards and to encourage the growth of beards, I recognize that beards are not for everyone. For some, the problem is the lack of facial hair follicles to do the job. It’s no fault of their own. That’s mother nature’s call and there’s not much that can be done about it. That’s why I encourage those who don’t have the follicles to produce a full beard to select another style that makes the most of the follicles that they have. If you have so few facial hair follicles that none of the beard styles seem to work for you, then it’s probably better to go back to shaving.
A beard, whatever style, should enhance your appearance. If it just doesn’t work and doesn’t look right, then maybe a beard simply is not for you. Just don’t be too hasty in making that determination. A new beard that may not appear to stand a chance may actually blossom into an admirable creation if given sufficient time. That’s why the let-it-grow-for-at-least-six-weeks rule is so important, especially for someone unsure of his beard-growing capability. Give it a try. If after six weeks you are happy with the result, then you’ve succeeded! If you are not happy with the results, you could give it a little more time. But if you come to the realization that the beard just did not work for you, it might be time to shave it. You might try again in a year or so to see if it turns out better the next time.
As the northern hemisphere heads into the summer season, some thoughts about beards and summer may be in order. Did you grow one of those “winter beards” and are now thinking of shaving it? Think again. Why not keep the beard?
You’ve made the effort to grow the beard and keep it until now. Why should the change of seasons call for eliminating the beard? Many suspect that it is too uncomfortably hot to keep a beard in summer. Most guys who regularly keep beards for the summer do not find that to be true. The beard typically acts as insulation, helping to keep the face a bit cooler. Similarly, the insulating effect of the beard helps to keep the face warmer in winter.
So, for those of you in the northern hemisphere heading into the warmer temperatures of summer, keep that beard! And for those of you in the southern hemisphere heading into cooler temperatures, now is a perfect time to start growing a new beard. Later on, when your summer comes around, remember to keep the beard!
As part of a new project just getting underway here at “all about beards”, I’ve made available a set of beards.org stickers to promote the growing of more beards worldwide. You can find them here.
A longtime friend and supporter of the site — and commenter on the blog! — suggested another saying for a beard sticker. Given the current acknowledgement that beards have been growing in numbers, the statement about the bearded zeitgeist seems particularly apt today. As they say, “resistance is futile.” Grow your beard!
I have seen recent news articles noting that beards have enjoyed increasing popularity lately. I couldn’t help but notice that in most of these articles, the author expresses some bewilderment about the bearded resurgence and seems to hope that it cannot be more than a passing fad. Apparently, they would be happy to see all of these new beards vanish as quickly as possible. Rejecting the legitimacy of wearing a beard almost seems to be an automatic response!
There’s nothing bad or wrong about wearing a well-groomed beard. It’s basically the same as maintaining well-groomed hair on the scalp. Why the automatic frowning on beards? Just a conditioned response? Some re-conditioning is in order. Do your part to stir up the men’s fashion writers. Grow a beard and keep it!
A recurrent theme for those who criticize beards is to trot out a long list of historic bad guys with beards. Obviously, that must PROVE that beards are somehow bad, right? It does not take, however, too much effort to compile a similar list of historic bad guys without beards. So, don’t blame it on the beard!
Recently I’ve fallen behind on the beard blogging. I’ve also got a backlog of email awaiting attention. I will be catching up on the email over the next few days. I’ll also get back to posting here on the blog. For now, my posting objective is to have at least a post each week.
A while ago, I received a terrific essay from a site visitor. It was titled Ode to Not Having The Whisker Gene. The piece conveys a sense of some of the anxiety and disappointment experienced by so many. Yet the author has the right attitude. The best that anyone can do is to accept themselves, make the most of what they’ve got, and be happy with that. The author gave permission to share his essay on this site. This is what he wrote:
Ode to Not Having The Whisker Gene
At age 14 I noticed some fuzz on my lip. I was ecstatic!! I immediately told my dad who promptly bought me my own razor and shave cream!
I shaved each day for nearly a month, then at the urging from dad I stopped for a few days to await the results. I was devastated. I was disappointed. I was hairless.
Dad said, “Just wait, give it time.”
I put away the razor.
At age 15 I noticed more hair on “other” parts of my body and tried the shaving thing again… nothing! I was so despondent… some of my junior high pals were showing signs of wispy mustaches and shadows on the chin. “What about me?” I asked.
I put away the razor.
For my 18th birthday I was determined to have some whiskers. I shaved every day for a month prior to my birthday, then stopped a week before that fateful morning…. there was something there! an ever so light dusting of the faintest of dark hairs filling the space between my lips and nose. Rapture! I was so excited! It was working! I was growing my much sought after mustache! I was now a man!
Much to my dismay, it didn’t get much darker or heavier as the days progressed. …sigh…
I then looked at my dad and older brothers and realized they didn’t have much brush growing on their faces either. Was it a family curse? What was up?!?
After high school, I enlisted in the Air Force. I had to shave EVERY day, whether I needed it or not! Well, at least I felt like the other guys, of course my shaving took all of 10 minutes while some of the Neanderthals in my flight took half-an-hour or more to scrape the pelts off their faces.
When I got a point in my military career where I didn’t have to shave everyday… guess what!?!?! I had a mustache! A real, honest-to-goodness, respectable, noticeable-from-a-distance, mustache. I didn’t even realize it until I went home and my sister said, “Hey, nice mustache!”
Alas, I have never been able to grow much more than that. At 30 I finally accepted the fact that I would never grow a beard or even a goatee, oh well… I’m still a man and I feel good about it.
Now at 47, I have no problem with my masculinity and don’t fret about trying to prove my manliness by growing a beard. In fact, I shaved my mustache and got incredible compliments! I was told I look younger and more handsome (they said!).
Still, it would be nice to watch the transformation of my face, from smooth to hirsute, but I don’t lose any sleep over it.
Countless times I have heard from guys who are all pumped up and enthusiastic about growing their beards, then later they report with a whimper that they unceremoniously abandoned the effort. What was the common element that destroyed all this beard growth, optimism, and enthusiasm? Harsh, negative comments from naysayers.
What empowers the naysayers to burst the bubbles of so many budding beard growers? What gives them the authority to rain on someone else’s parade, so to speak? Why do they feel entitled to harshly criticize another’s appearance so thoughtlessly, simply because of a new beard? Such blatant criticism would likely be deemed inappropriate or unacceptable if directed at some other physical aspect, but the naysayers seem to think it’s a right — even a duty — to put the new beard grower “in his place” with a verbal bashing.
A new beard grower usually could use as many confidence boosts as possible. He’s taking a risk, stepping out of the comfort zone. He doesn’t really know how the beard will turn out, how it will finally look. In the early stages of growth, it can frequently be difficult to predict how good the fully-grown beard will look. It’s a delicate stage of the game and confidence can be extremely shaky. One good attack from a naysayer may be all it takes to convince someone to completely give up the effort of growing a beard — usually before the beard growth had progressed sufficiently for the grower to make a fair assessment of it himself.
New beard growers, take heart and stand firm! Don’t hand the naysayers another victory. Take a stand that you will not abandon the beard as a reaction to a naysayer. Before rushing for the clippers or razor, come back to “all about beards” for some confidence building and don’t give up!
Of all the tired arguments hauled out by beard critics, perhaps the most irritating is the assertion that a man with a beard is hiding behind it. Rather than serving as a cover behind which the sheepish may cower, a beard draws attention to its owner, making him stand out from the beardless crowd. For those who are shy and self-conscious, and those who are lacking in self-confidence, growing a beard requires genuine courage and determination. Growing a beard is the opposite of hiding.