Linden wrote from Sydney, Australia to inform me that the “all about beards” site had inspired him to grow his beard. I replied that he would be a great candidate for the “beard success stories” feature that I was planning for the site. He willingly agreed to contribute by emailing photos and answering a questionnaire. Here is Linden’s beard success story, in his own words.
Click on the photo to go to Linden’s photo album.
How did you find the web site “all about beards”?
I’ve known about this site since 1996 — long before I ever decided to grow a beard. Stumbled across it through basic Internet searches — looking for websites and forums discussing beards – particularly on how to grow one.
How did the “all about beards” site influence your decision to grow a beard?
I am 39 years old and — except for a few abortive and brief attempts to grow a beard — I have remained a clean-shaven man, irrespective of my fascination and interest in beards and bearded men. The website was instrumental in my final decision to grow a beard. I know of no-one who I could approach and ask for guidance or tips in the process of growing a beard. I think it takes a lot of confidence to grow a full beard — as it becomes a facial feature that dominates and dramatically shifts people’s reactions and perceptions of who you are.
I was sensitive to this, and so found the resources provided by the website invaluable in helping me deal with the reactions of other people. I kept coming back to the central question (whether asked by myself or other people): Why grow a beard? And the answer came posed as a question in itself — simply: ‘Why NOT grow a beard?’
Was the site’s information on growing a beard helpful to you?
Yes. My beard is not as thick (full) as I would like or appreciate on other men — until it achieves a certain length and depth. This presented me with an uncomfortable period where I felt I needed to trim back the beard to keep it neat and presentable — normally after two weeks. This approach never really let the beard develop, nor did I find it all that satisfying in its effect or feel. Though, I must admit other people found this ‘style’ more acceptable and would comment positively on the “look”. This, however, didn’t really give me what I was personally looking for, and so after a number of attempts, I set myself a four-week “don’t touch or trim” goal. This was hard, kind of like breaking a personal barrier, but in the end it paid off and I was happy with the result.
Has the site’s information on beard grooming been useful?
I’ve tried many times to grow a beard — and never really understood the importance behind grooming or choosing a style that added to the shape, contours and symmetry of my face. In early attempts, I always trimmed back my beard by simply shaving the areas where I wanted to shape an outline of what I though would look good — this was universally unsuccessful and would always result in my shaving the entire beard off (leading to much comment from work colleagues, family and friends — usually accompanied with a “thank god” or “that looks much better” — without the beard). As I finally let my beard grow, grooming became a deliberate expression of some personal aesthetic. I invested in a beard trimmer after six scruffy weeks and quickly learned how to keep my beard shaped and defined in a way that pleased me.
Once you started growing your beard, did you ever have thoughts of giving up the effort? Did the site help you to keep growing?
Cause and effect: shaving my beard off became as routine as my attempts to grow one — in fact, this became a pattern and settled into an almost biannual rhythm. Hair today, gone tomorrow — so to speak. Because of the reactions of other people, I believe that the beard-growing process can be a difficult one — and for me this was exaggerated by my own perception that my beard was neither thick nor full-enough to be an “excellent beard”. Funnily enough, I found inspiration in the galleries on the website and used these images as inspiration and motivation to keep growing.
You’ve grown a full beard. How did you select this style?
I’ve always preferred full beards and think a man looks better full-bearded than not. However, personally a trimmed or overly styled beard looks too contrived (almost theatrical) on my face — it doesn’t look natural on me. I’ve opted for a beard style that needs minimal maintenance, and yet — I feel — is also an easy style that “suits” me.
How do you like being a full-bearded man?
I love it. I love the sense of it — the feel of it and the depth, dimension, style and symmetry it adds to my face. Without going too far into the personal or sensual aspects of having grown a full beard, it’s enough to say that it seems to have “completed” me as both an adult and a man. I am more confident and content. I guess that there’s an element of self being described here as well — in that I feel that my face now reflects the person within.
Did you enjoy the beard-growing process?
To be honest: yes and no. The physical process is quite an experience — if that’s your thing. I enjoyed the sensation of my beard growing, as it seemed to add a physical dimension to my face. I guess I’m a tactile person — the sense of touch is important to me. The feel, texture and the touch of my beard as it grew increased the sensitivity of my face and lips. These physical sensations have not diminished even after the beard has settled into its full length and style. There was a brief period where the itching and unfamiliarity of my beard would actually affect my sleep, but this passed quickly enough.
I’m a sensitive guy — the thing I found hardest about the process was the reaction of other people.
How have other people reacted to your beard? How do you feel about their reactions?
People assess you by your appearance — end of story. Very few people were supportive of the beard and everyone had an opinion. As I started to grow my beard and it became clear to everyone that I was breaking with my usual ‘hair today, gone tomorrow’ routine — there came an almost constant and subtle pressure to remain clean-shaven (“You have such a nice face, why grow a beard?” or — my favourite — “A beard makes you look like you’re trying to hide something”). People’s reactions to bearded men are interesting to say the least — and were generally not positive from the outset.
Interestingly, this has changed as people slowly got used to my beard, as if people have slowly become familiar with someone new entering their lives.
Go to Linden’s photo album.