2.17.2011

On Beardedness...

What is this man hiding?
With regard to presenting yourself, the hair on your face is nearly as important as the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet. I've seen enough terrible facial hair to realize that it is quite noticeable, likely moreso that the clothes you wear. Seriously, there isn't much worse than terrible facial hair (ie. scraggly, flesh-colored, soul patches, line beards, most goatees, etc.). I most highly respect a full beard and I can only support partial styles in special cases.

If you haven't figured it out by now, or haven't seen a recent photo of my face, I currently have a beard. I am a seasonal beard-grower because I enjoy being both bearded and clean-shaven. Also being bearded in hot summer months can sometimes be uncomfortable.

Either way, I'm very much a beard supporter, provided it looks good. Coverage is one of the ultimate qualifiers for how good a beard is. Unfortunately, this is a genetic trait over which man has no control. This is why I believe every man owes it to his ancestors to, at some point in his life, attempt to grow a beard. If you can go days without shaving and nobody can tell, beardedness may not be for you. Still, I implore you to try. If you shave everyday, every other day, or twice a day, you stand a decent chance. Give it four to six weeks, keeping the trimming minimal. For beard growing strategy abound, visit All About Beards (beards.org). This is where I gleaned the knowledge to grow and maintain my first solid beard. It is an excellent resource for anyone thinking of growing a beard and covers topics that you wouldn't really think of. For example, establishing a good neckline (highly underrated). At the very least it has a gallery of user-submitted beard progress (and some pretty epic beards). Don't bother looking for me on it because I've never submitted any photos.

Anyway, for the sake of brevity, I'm not going to delve into the history of beardedness. I think Brent of The Art of Manliness does a pretty good job in this video. Right now, beards seem to be slightly waning in popularity although popularity is still pretty high. Regardless of the fashionably of beards in mainstream popular culture, I still believe that men should grow them (because they can, dammit!). I also think that facial hair can be worn in earnest (as opposed to ironically) and that hipster culture has all but destroyed the image of the modern mustache.

Aside: I used to worry about whether women would be repelled by my beardedness until I realized that it doesn't matter. In my experience, while most women wouldn't prefer their man to be bearded, those who do are way more enthusiastic about it. Plus, if she doesn't like you for you, she's not worth it anyway.

Anyway, I'm not just ramblingly waxing poetic about beards. This has a point, right? I'll stop beating around the bush. I wrote this personal endorsement of beards because of something that's been bothering me for a while now. This:



 


Who is this guy? Is he a secret agent?
In the most literal sense, I suppose this statement is true. Facial hair usually obscures the skin on the wearer's face. However, it is clear that this is an unsubstantiated slight against facial hair owners.  This statement is analogous to saying that men without facial hair have nothing to hide. This is why I will never be buying a book (or anything) from Mr. Lamond (although I may be unknowingly supporting him as he is a television producer and writer). While he is free to one day teach his son to distrust men with facial hair, I will not turn a blind eye to his public recommendation, however indirect, to do the same. Nor will I teach my future unborn son to suspect something of his fellow man based upon appearances. Also, you can argue that based upon the careful wording of his above statement that it isn't expressly negative but Mr. Lamond says in an interview he with did with The Art of Manliness:
"You know, it’s funny when people feel like they are getting criticized for their personal style, it can get a little touchy. I have a thing against facial hair. My dad always taught me that men with facial hair have something to hide." (Source)
From father to son, from father to son, and so on and so on. Is this what we want? Generations of unquestioning beard antagonists?  Because of his vast audience due to the popularity of his book and the accompanying Tumblr and Twitter accounts (25K+ and 6.2K+ followers, respectively, at time of publication), Mr. Lamond has a responsibility to to treat men with facial hair with more respect. It is truly a shame that he chose to include this "rule" because I actually think most of the others I've read to be rather clever and quite good.

For the record, I do feel like I am being criticized for my personal style. I might feel differently if the statement against facial hair had been either witty or humorous or both. Instead the claim is admittedly baseless and also insensitive. It only adds insult to injury that the Rules for My Unborn Son logo is a boy preparing to shave...

10 comments:

  1. I personally teach my kids the following axiom: guns don't kill people, people with moustaches kill people. Good rant and good read. Thanks for keeping me away from the spreadsheet manipulation I was in the midst of.

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  2. i think it would be a real drag to be this guy's son, unless you make a game out of breaking all the "rules" he made (and published!) for you before you were born. ugh.

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  3. I too am a seasonal beard grower. I had to suspend mine this year due to a cold but it's back for the late winter. Does Brett Kesiel win beard of the year? Lamond isn't even half way to 1,001 rules and he's had that blog for a while now. What are the odds that he doesn't reach 1,001?

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  4. I've had either a beard or goatee for the last 13 years. When I was younger, I did it to rebel and didn't like shaving. Now I do it because a well-kept beard adds distinction and width to my otherwise narrow face.

    I take no offense to Mr. Lamond's comment since it holds no personally useful predictive value. Men in my diverse neighborhood wear beards for every reason from religious devotion to furry fashion accessory. Attributing any personality characteristic to a man based strictly on the fuzz on his face is silly.

    Thanks for the space to muse on beards.

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  5. Great rumination. Thoroughly pleasing to read. This lady wholeheartedly endorses gentlemanly facial hair (especially in the case of one Mr. N. Wooster) and completely agrees - find a lady that likes you for you.

    Best,
    Mariah

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  6. Thank you for that thoughtful comment on Mr. Lamond's book and site. I too am a hirsute individual in the facial region during most of the year. I am an owner of his book and like you, find most if not all of the entries poignant and humorous save for one. The beard comment really irked me as I find it baseless and counter to the history of the beard. Quite a few amazing people throughout history have had beards, and most of the shady individuals I have been exposed to in my 36 years have all been clean shaven. Just saying.

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  7. I feel that you may be taking that rule much too seriously. I really hope you are writing this post with sarcasm, or at least a dash of playfulness. I don't think Walker writes his blog or wrote his book as a manifesto against the preferences of others. Put the knife away.

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  8. I'd counter with: men seeking to appear too clean cut (/shaven) probably have a body in the basement."

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  9. To be brutally honest I can't be arsed to shave every day; a trim once a week suits me fine. In any case my beard adds some interest to my otherwise bland and unintersting phsiognomy. And to all those beard haters out there I say, "Go jump in a (Great) lake!"

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