Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stupid Attacks on Beards

As all you bearded men out there know, our faces are the subject of periodic attacks from individuals who have decided for one reason or another that we aren't capable of deciding for ourselves how we should look. Sometimes these are simply mild suggestions, while other times they are outright assaults. Subtle, aggressive, well-intentioned, or condescending; there are nearly infinite shapes and forms these statements will take. And sometimes, they can be flat out stupid. I've heard plenty of that last variety myself, as I'm sure any bearded man has. Most often they take the form of "it makes you look like _______". That blank can be filled with anything from Amish farmers to terrorists to hobos to the members of ZZ Top, as if donning facial hair suddenly makes you indistinguishable from someone or something you don't otherwise resemble in any way. It makes you want to say "Look, having a beard doesn't make me look like Osama Bin Laden any more than your blond hair makes you look like Pamela Anderson."

Well, out of this sea of stupid comments, occasionally a statement will emerge that is so incredibly bizarre or misguided that you can't help remembering it months or even years after it was uttered. I can recall two such remarks which have been directed at me, which I will quote here as close to accurately as I can:

1. "Beards have always seemed to me like pubic hair growing on your face."

2. "Growing a beard longer than your hair is unnatural."

So, let's start by talking about that first one. Talk about a no-holds-barred attack. Making such a comparison seems like a pretty desperate attempt to make somebody self-conscious, which leaves me wondering why anybody would be so deeply concerned about controlling the appearances of the people around them. Insecurity is my only guess. Insecurity of colossal proportions. Not to mention the fact that it's no better a comparison than saying the hair on your head is "like armpit hair growing on your scalp", or any other combination of hair from two different parts of the body, for that matter. It's not pubic hair, it's facial hair. As evidence of this, I submit the fact that my beard grows on my FACE exactly like it's supposed to. Additionally, I am a little troubled by the implication that this individual was somehow quite familiar with seeing pubic hair before they had encountered men with beards, given that it would be pretty much impossible to navigate childhood without seeing at least a handful of bearded men. I don't really want to explore that avenue any further, but suffice it to say that I feel deep concern for anybody who would make such a statement.

Now on to the latter remark, which I actually heard fairly recently when I told somebody that I planned on letting my beard grow rather long. Unnatural? How is it possible that allowing something that grows naturally to just grow could be called "unnatural"? Is the alternative of scraping it off with a razor every day somehow closer to what nature intended? If so, why do men naturally grow beards in the first place? Frankly, I think letting his beard grow is one of the most natural things any man can do, and I find attacking beards on the basis of "nature" to be pretty silly.

So anyway, take heart bearded men. Remember that you're not alone. And remember that yes, there are people who do realize how stupid the attacks leveled at your beard can be.


  1. I was blessed/cursed to start growing facial hair very early and by 16 I had a fine, full goatee. My sophmore English teacher made several vague remarks about her dislike for bearded men. One day she pulled me aside after class to sit me down and tell me how bad I looked. She said "People with facial hair look dishonest because they are hiding part of their face. As long as you have that nasty beard no one will trust you." I thanked her for her input and told her that I disagreed with her quite vehemently. We did not get along well afterwards. She was a gem of a lady.

  2. That's an excellent (and rather amusingly told) example. Thank-you for sharing, my hirsute friend.