Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reasons to Grow a Beard

I have heard it said, mostly by women, that men grow beards to hide their insecurities and/or indulge some form of masculinity complex. I'll admit that, since they are super manly, there are certainly men who grow beards to look more masculine. I'll admit that I myself find that image to be a nice side-effect. However, I feel that such remarks about beard growth are generally negative and misleading (if a man was really insecure, growing a beard and thus subjecting himself to constant badgering is probably the last thing he'd want to do). I can't speak for everybody, but I know I have several reasons for growing a beard that have nothing to do with my security level or masculine image. I know in my first post on this blog I talked some about beards as the symbol of becoming a man and all that, but I've decided to list here 7 reasons, ranging from petty to meaningful, why I'm letting my beard grow. There are other reasons to grow a beard of course, but these are some of my personal motivations.

1: I like the way a beard feels on my face. It's comfortable once you get past the itching phase, and it's useful in all seasons. When it's cold out, a beard is like a home-grown scarf (it really does make you feel warmer). In the summer, splash some water in there and it's like walking around with a swamp cooler on your face. I know that sounds a little goofy, but it works better than you might think.

2: I prefer the way I look with facial hair. I have shaved my face clean at several points during my adult life, and I've always immediately regretted doing so, because I don't like the way I look clean-shaven. It's just the way my face is constructed, I feel like I look stupid when my face is devoid of hair. Note that this does not relate to masculine image. Rather, it's much like how some hairstyles look "right" on a person and others look "wrong".

3: I enjoy stroking my beard. It's an odd habit I picked up a little while back, but it's quite soothing to sit back and absently stroke one's beard while deep in contemplation, or even while just zoning out for a bit. And yes, I do in fact sit back in deep contemplation from time to time (though to be fair, I zone out a lot too).

4: It makes you stand out, so you're easier to recognize and remember. Quite often you'll run in to people you met a month ago, and they don't remember if you've ever met. Well, since beards are the exception rather than the norm, I've noticed that people will usually remember meeting a guy with a beard because the beard stands out in their memory. This is of course just my own theory, as I haven't done any research or anything to prove that I'm right, but sometimes in life we all go on our own little pet theories.

5: It makes me feel closer to nature. I love taking long meandering walks and admiring the natural world. I always feel like I'm more a part of that natural order when I have facial hair. Probably because if you just "go back to nature" you will inevitably end up with a beard. At least I do.

6: This one is an easy, obvious, fairly universal, and admittedly lazy reason. I don't like shaving. Pretty simple, really. It's uncomfortable and I don't like doing it, so why would I go through a process I dislike to arrive at an appearance I also dislike, when I can leave it alone and like the results better?

7: This is a more personal reason. My grandpa on my dad's side died when I was only two, so my Great Uncle Rod (my grandma's brother) essentially became my surrogate grandfather. He was a very rare and wonderful person, incredibly intelligent, remarkably patient, knowledgeable in the most fascinating and esoteric subjects, and generous to a fault. And the whole time I knew him he had a full beard at least 5 or 6 inches in length. He has sadly passed on now, but growing my own beard makes me feel closer to him and serves as a kind of homage in remembrance of a person who was a very special part of my life.

There, those are some of my reasons. On the other side of the coin, the only reasons I can think of NOT to grow a beard are:

Some people think I'd look better without it.
Some people think it's a mask for my insecurities.

Those are some pretty flimsy excuses for doing anything at all when you come right down to it. So yeah, I'm feeling like the beard is here to stay.

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