A career-boosting, first-rate beard!
Think beards are bad for that “professional” look? Think again as you read on.
All About BEARDS proudly welcomes Tom to our featured beards section! Sometimes unlikely beard growers become the strongest beard supporters and beard role models. Tom is a great example. Learn how a serious injury sent Tom on an incredible beard journey.
Tom’s introduction in his own words:
I am a pediatrician living in Georgia with my wife and two children. I’ve had a beard since November of 2016 when I decided not to shave during my time off for Thanksgiving holiday break. Having shaved off previous beards during that itchy awkward phase around four weeks of growth, this beard was protected and nurtured by an ankle fracture I sustained shortly after I started growing it. This injury left me unable to stand for over a month. It’s nearly impossible to shave lying flat. So when I finally recovered from surgery and was able to stand, I looked in the mirror and saw a full beard that I did not know I was capable of growing. My wife and children thought I should maintain it. So I’ve been bearded ever since.
I discovered All About BEARDS while looking for information about trimming my neck and cheek lines. I must say I was inspired by the “featured beards” and “beard success stories” I read about and this served to reinforce my commitment to remaining bearded. When you have a beard you never look quite the same from day to day or week to week. I photographed my beard journey regularly as I tried to figure out my style and now I’m flattered to be asked to share these pics on the site I found so inspirational.
Scroll down to read Tom’s beard story.
Also, be sure to see Tom’s Beard Gallery.
What do you think about beards?
Guys just look better with a beard than they do without. We’ve all seen those before-and-after pics on the Internet or had friends and colleagues who have grown a beard. I can’t think of any who did not improve their looks. Having a beard is the natural state for an adult male. What I was not expecting after growing my beard was how it would change the way others perceived me in terms of my intelligence, leadership ability, and attractiveness. There’s something primal about it. It sounds farfetched but bearded men know its true.
Intelligence? Leadership ability? Yes, after growing my beard many people told me I looked scholarly, like a professor. And about that time I started advancing in the leadership ranks of my organization much more quickly. I’ve accomplished much more in my five bearded years than the seventeen years prior. Coincidence? I think one’s looks do play a role in his success. I mention this only because a lot of men seem to think having a beard may be detrimental somehow to their career.
Has your opinion about beards changed over time?
Yes, in a sense that I did not think much about beards or having a beard until I grew my own. We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of buying a new car and then noticing there are many cars just like our own on the road. Prior to driving it you never noticed them. My beard has been a positive change in my life and I feel privileged to contribute to beards.org, which is such an important resource and source of inspiration for others considering doing the same.
What do you think about your own beard?
I think my views have been shaped by the comments people share with me on a regular basis. I’m happy to have a beard that is quite thick, dense, and full. I like the fact that it grows quite fast because it looks a little different every morning when I look in the mirror. Due to my rate of growth, I don’t think I could maintain the trendy ultra short stubble beard because I’d have to shave more than once every day. I don’t seem to have any areas of light growth that I need hair to cover – it’s everywhere!
How does having such a great beard make you feel?
It’s a great boost to one’s ego to receive a compliment from a perfect stranger. That happens to me on a regular basis but it never happened before I grew a beard. Beards seem to be the one thing guys allow themselves to compliment each other about.
Did anyone in your family have a beard before you?
No, my father and uncles were clean shaven. Since I’ve grown a beard, however, my younger brothers have also grown a beard.
When did you grow your first beard?
I grew a beard briefly in college. It was your typical late adolescent, early twenties beard -– a little less full and dense than what I have now, but appropriate for age. I ended up caving in to the negative feedback one inevitably receives when first growing a beard.
As mentioned above, I started growing the beard I have now during a week off at Thanksgiving in 2016. Shortly after starting my beard growth I fractured my ankle and had two surgeries. I was not able to stand upright for weeks after these surgeries. Its pretty hard to shave lying down, so I was really forced, in a sense, to grow my beard out in full. Once I was able to stand again I looked in the mirror and I had a nice, full, thick beard.
Had you ever thought about growing a beard long before growing your first beard?
I remember thinking about it in elementary school. One of my teachers was bearded and I wondered what it must feel like to have hair growing on your cheeks. That’s about the extent of it.
What led you to grow your current beard?
It started with the Thanksgiving week break from shaving that was unexpectedly extended. Thinking back on it, the ankle surgery recovery period meant that I didn’t have to work or be around friends and family much during those “transitional” awkward beard growth phases. Once I was able to stand again I looked in the mirror and I had a nice, full, thick beard. My wife told me she liked it and I haven’t shaved since then.
How did the beard affect you?
I remember thinking “this is how I’m supposed to look” after growing my beard. Your self perception or how you define yourself changes with time after growing your beard. I now think of myself as a “bearded man” rather than man who “has a beard.” What I mean is that this is now part of who I am, not just how I choose to groom myself at the moment.
What happened to your first beard?
My first beard, which I grew in college, succumbed to my lack of will power. My mother wanted me to shave and I did. I think there are very few mothers who love their son’s first beard. It must make them feel older or something.
Do you plan to keep your beard permanently now?
Yes, if my beard can survive COVID, it is here to stay. As a healthcare worker I nearly had to shave my beard off for the N95 mask. Luckily I was able to make alternative arrangements and was able to keep my beard.
How do people react to your beard?
I’ve already discussed the comments I get from strangers, so I’m going to answer this question from the perspective of a pediatrician. When I’m caring for an infant or toddler I can see it in their eyes when they haven’t seen a bearded man before. They seem just a bit confused and fearful. I can tell when their dad has a beard because they seem much more comfortable and interactive. Their mothers are usually surprised when I say “Her daddy has a beard doesn’t he?” I don’t think I’ve been wrong about this yet.
Do people ever tell you to trim or shave your beard? If so, how do you respond?
Only my mother. I tell her that she is the only one telling me to do this. But I understand because all mothers seem to have a similar view.
Do you know if your beard has inspired others to grow their beards?
Not that anyone has told me. However, I have known a few co-workers and, as I’ve mentioned, my brothers who have grown a beard subsequent to mine.
Do you encourage others to grow their beards?
I make a special effort to compliment adolescents and young men who are going through that transitional phase with a new beard. It’s so important to conform at that age and they are very sensitive to both positive and negative feedback. A random compliment could be all they need to have the willpower to grow out their beard.
Why have you chosen the classic full beard?
My beard grows so fast and thick I think the full beard chose me. I don’t really have the time or the skills to cut or to shape it any other way. That being said, I think the classic full beard looks best once your beard is fully mature. I see some other styles like the chinstrap as a means of transitioning into a full beard while your beard matures.
Recently your full beard has been trending a bit bigger and longer. How do you like this? Will it continue?
Yes, but there are some limitations to how I can wear my beard because of my career. Since my beard is hidden under a mask, for the most part, I’ve been able to “push the limits” in a sense and grow it longer. I now like to keep the “goatee area” around my mustache and chin longer and fuller, the cheeks slightly more trimmed (or they get quite wavy), and the sideburns faded into my haircut.
Do you shape and trim your beard yourself? If so, how did you learn to do it right?
I really enjoy the pampering that comes with a hot towel wrap, warm shaving cream and a straight razor. A barber shop that caters to bearded men really makes for a nice place to visit on a Saturday morning. I have tried to trim my beard myself and it never comes out quite as nice and it is definitely not as relaxing.
How do you care for your beard? What’s your beard-care routine?
I wash my beard one day and condition it the next day on an alternate basis. I apply a beard oil daily and, when my beard is longer, will use a beard balm to keep the stray hairs down. I like the lightly scented beard products, particularly those with a woodsy scent.
What is your opinion of beards.org? Did the site affect your beard journey in any way?
Beards.org is the premier website for everything related to the topic of growing and maintaining a beard, encouraging beard growth, or admiring other beards. The site reinforced my commitment to beard growth and gave me examples of beards I could make my “beard goal.” These gentlemen can still be found on the site today. I never would have expected to be featured on beards.org as well.
What do you think about being featured on beards.org?
I hope my feature and comments on beards.org will help to inspire or motivate others thinking about growing a beard to give it a try. I came to this site during my first month of beard growth and found it so inspirational I’ve been coming back ever since. Its really an honor to be recognized as worthy to be on the site.
Tom’s Beard Gallery
Click on any image below to view a larger version and, optionally, a slide show.