Have a happy, bearded new year!

happy bearded new year!

Happy New Year to all from all about beards!

Later this month, the site will mark its eleventh anniversary on the web. That’s eleven years of helping and encouraging men all over the world to grow their beards. And we’re just getting started.

Beards have been gaining momentum in recent years. Let’s keep it up! The start of a new year is a great time to start growing a new beard. If you’ve got a beard to grow, head over to the growing a beard page and start growing! Know someone else who has a beard to grow? Send him to the growing a beard page, too, with lots of encouragement. May 2007 be the best year for beards yet! Happy bearded new year!

the hardest thing about growing a beard

The most difficult thing about growing a beard is dealing with the comments of others. Okay, that may not be THE hardest thing, but it is definitely among the most difficult. Depending on your situation, you may find that the comments on your new beard are all supportive. That would be the best-case scenario. And that scenario does happen. In the worst-case scenario, however, people may declare all-out psychological warfare in an attempt to defeat your beard-growing efforts.

People are resistant to change and they all have opinions. When you grow a beard, you are changing the image that they have of you and they often would prefer that you not do that. They usually also have an opinion on beards that they feel compelled to share with you, like it or not. It’s often surprising how free people feel to criticize a new beard when similar criticisms of other physical features would generally be considered off limits. What should you do? Be prepared to stand your ground. When growing a new beard, make a commitment to yourself to see it through for at least six weeks. Make it a steadfast rule that you will not cave in, no matter what kinds of remarks or complaints are lobbed at you. You must psychologically prepare yourself for an onslaught of comments. Stand firm. Grow your beard!

Far too many newly-grown beards get hacked off in fits of self-doubt after receiving some insensitive, negative comments. Don’t let this happen to you. After people learn that you are not spineless and that you are committed to growing the beard, the commentary will usually ease up. It may even all become positive feedback. Some of the harshest critics may find that they actually like your beard! You’ll never learn that, however, if you let the beard critics win.

beard-growing season

In the northern hemisphere, November always seems to be a good time to start growing a beard. The start of winter provides both an excuse and some motivation. The semi-official kick-off date seems to be November 1st. But if you didn’t start on the first, now is still a good time to begin. Beard-growing contests, such as the International Round-Robin Beard Off (defunct link removed), may provide additional support or justification for hesitant beard growers. If you’re not already a participant in an established beard-growing contest, start your own! Happy beard-growing to all.

Oh, and for those of you in the southern hemisphere, although your seasons may be reversed, November is a good time for you to grow a beard, too. Remember: “Any time can be beard-growing time!”

how did you do that?

Some time ago, a colleague and I were having lunch at a fast-food restaurant. In the dining room, I noticed another bearded guy sitting not far away. I couldn’t help but compare my beard with his and I was feeling that his beard was better. Meanwhile, an elderly gentleman sat down at the table next to my colleague and me. All of a sudden, the elderly gentleman asked me, “How did you that?” In reply, I asked him, “How did I do what?” He said, “grow a beard like that.” He went on to say that for all his life, he had wanted to grow a beard like that, but had never been physically capable of growing one. I was a bit stunned and flattered, but I couldn’t help but think that he should have directed his questioning to the other bearded guy nearby. After all, his beard was better, I thought.

This illustrates one more reason not to be a beard waster. If you can grow a beard, grow it. It’s a privilege, perhaps even a duty. And even though you may not realize it, you gain the admiration of some of those less fortunate, who are unable to grow a beard.

the importance of hanging in there

A site visitor wrote in with encouraging words that underscore the value of not abandoning all hope. His essay is quoted here, with permission, in its entirety:

I would like to offer encouragement to all fair-haired guys who have lost faith in their capabilities for beard growing when they compare themselves to their dark friends with steel wool whiskers who have a visible beard after 3 or 4 days of not shaving.

I have light brown hair but nature saw it fit to give me a white blond mustache and mouche and light brown sideburns with a slight reddish cast to them (Scottish ancestors I guess). I never tried to grow a beard for more than 3 or so weeks as it always looked like one of those attempts which one forces in high school — patchy, multicolored, and feeble, with bits missing between the goatee and the sideburns. It also seemed to grow extremely slowly (when compared to other people).

After not shaving on an extended vacation the year I turned 35, I was freed of the self-judgement and self-consciousness which usually put paid to my attempts in the past and I hung in there for more than a month. My beard underwent a dramatic transformation after 6 weeks, when all of a sudden it filled in and out and looked like a Beard!

When I shaved it off after a couple of months (a mistake which I set about rectifying as soon as I had done it), my boss’ comment to me was: “why did you shave, the beard made you look ‘power'”!

Since I have grown it back, I have been getting nothing but good feedback from people (male and female) and it has done wonders for my confidence in my appearance.

So to all of you mouse-brown, blond, or ginger guys out there, give it at least 6 — 8 weeks. Hang in there and let it grow, you will be surprised with the results.

the shaving trap

In Garrett’s beard feature, he reveals a fundamental mechanism for getting caught in the shaving trap. He and other high school students who are among the first to develop facial hair are frequently required to shave because of school dress codes. So they shave and the shaving habit easily becomes entrenched, almost automatically. What’s more is that these early shavers set an example for those who develop facial hair later. So they may be more inclined to follow the trend and conform, even if it’s after they are out of high school.

This illustrates how the practice of shaving facial hair gains an early foothold. Once established, it may remain resistant to change. If shaving requirements are lifted, many report to beards.org that they soon decide to grow beards to celebrate their new freedom. A common example of this is when a man leaves the military.

Beware of the shaving trap. You can break free of it — eventually, depending on your own circumstances — and grow your beard.

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. 🙁

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