going natural: other beards on the street

A popular feature on this site are the beards on the street photos. These are candid shots of bearded guys contributed by a photographer friend of the site. There is another kind of beard on the street, however. In recent months, while out bicycle riding on urban bike trails and through parks, I observed an astonishing variety of beards on homeless men. The problem of homelessness is huge and tragic and solving it is way beyond the scope of this blog. Here I’ll just take a moment to look at the homeless as bearded human beings rather than people to avoid or ignore.

One thing about beards on the homeless is that the beards are usually full beards at all-out growth levels. They grow without holding back, without apologies. There’s no shaping of a cheek line or a neck line. They usually let the full amount of beard fully grow. That’s a look rarely seen among the non-homeless bearded men. Why is that? Do they fear that an all-natural beard growth pattern might make them look too much like the homeless? Some state that letting it all grow naturally would make them look like a wolf man. Others fear that it looks unkempt or that the look is simply not acceptable.

Whatever may be the source, the pressure to shape precise cheek and neck lines is evidently quite intense. I figure that the all-natural full beard is viewed as extreme or untidy or even dirty simply because it’s so rarely seen. Few are brave enough to let it grow that way. And when it is seen, it’s seen most frequently on the homeless. And in those cases, because of the desperate situations of the homeless bearded men, the all-natural full beard gets associated with being unkempt and dirty.

The all-natural full beard does not have to be unkempt and dirty. Properly groomed and maintained, it’s just as tidy and clean as any other hair on the head. The look may be viewed as overpowering or extreme by some, but this is most likely because the look is so rarely seen outside the homeless population. The homeless population gives us a unique opportunity to see beards as they naturally occur. Next time you see one, thank him for that.

the most-frequently-asked question about beards

Through the site, I get lots and lots of questions about beards all the time. Over the years, the question that I get most often comes from guys who report having little or no beard development. They ask if there is a cream, a medicine, or some other remedy that they can use to produce beard growth.

The sad truth is that there is no magic solution to produce beard growth where there is little or none. If the guy is young, patience may be the answer, as there is always the chance that he will develop more facial hair in the future. Otherwise, unless there is a medical problem inhibiting beard development, there’s really not much that can be done.

Many who ask this question express having a great deal of anxiety over their insufficient beard growth. Some have even reported contemplating suicide because of extreme frustration and powerful feelings of inferiority that stem from the inability to grow a beard. I recognize that it is a serious problem for them. Although others may insensitively dismiss it as being trivial, it is not. For many, the pain and frustration are profound.

I encourage all guys to work on accepting the level of beard development that they have and learning to make the most of it. If it still bothers a guy enough, I encourage him to consult a medical doctor. The doctor may not be able to help him develop more beard growth, but should be able to assist the patient in understanding the situation and help him to build coping skills. This is one of the toughest lessons about beards.

a new beard battle

A new beard battle is about to start. It’s The Great Beard Battle, a Hyde Park, New York beard-growing contest. These brave men are competing in a beard contest during the sweltering summer heat. Wimps, they are not. We shall see! Kudos to their fearless webmaster and good luck to all the participants!

UPDATE: The battle fizzled and the link is no longer any good. 🙁

beards.org is back!

It’s been a rather dramatic day for beards.org. The server on which the site is hosted suffered a disk failure that required restoring the site from a backup. Unfortunately, the latest backup available was from a few days ago. So the beards of the world gallery has temporarily lost three photos and the view counters have been set back a bit. A new comment for the blog was also lost. The gallery images will be restored soon and the commenter on the blog will be invited to re-submit.

While the loss of data is not something enjoyable, at least the data lost this time was relatively minor. Ironically, I was going to take a new backup earlier today, but the server outage had just hit. Had I made it in under the wire, the data loss essentially would have been nil. The lesson here for everyone is one that’s been repeated time and again: back up, back up, back up your data! You’ll be glad that you did.

Also, as a result of the server outage, the site was missing in action for most of the day. I’m happy that it’s back now. I hope that you are, too!

the trouble with trends

As noted here and elsewhere, beards have been experiencing an upsurge in popularity lately. Is it a trend? The trouble with trends is that they come and go. Beards need not and should not come and go based on the whims of trendiness and fads.

When the current beard trend fades — which it likely will, as most trends do — many of the brave new beards will probably pass into history. How do we keep from losing the momentum of the current upswing in favor of beards? It’s not easy. The best thing to do is to think about beards as a component of manhood and not a fashion accessory. Grow the beard that you want. Don’t worry about whether it’s trendy or not. Be yourself and make your own statement by growing the beard that pleases you.

why can’t a man be more like a woman?

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!

are you worthy of the 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.

beards for summer

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!

the bearded zeitgeist

bearded zeitgeist

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!

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