Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cultural Beard Paradox

I find that, when growing a beard, there is a single significant psychological paradox which one encounters. The issue is: "how do you feel about the idea of beards becoming popular?" On the one hand, as a bearded man speaking in defense of beards everywhere, I would of course love to see beards gain the kind of general acceptance and even popularity which I think they deserve. On the other hand, one of the great things about having a beard is the individuality and non-conformity beards represent. If beards remain a societal red-headed stepson, so to speak, then the irritation of dealing with derogatory remarks and discrimination in employment will continue indefinitely. But if beards become popular then the unique independence they demonstrate in their wearers will become lost. I am not, in saying this, making any attempt to prevent the popularity of beards. I love beards, and I would never fight against their continued growth. I am simply stating that, as is true of any minority activity or counter-cultural movement, once it becomes big enough it loses a part of what drew people to it in the first place. Of course, even though beards are making a bit of a comeback in the past few years, I don't see them ever becoming the norm in Western culture again, so this whole debate is probably moot. Nonetheless, it's some interesting food for thought.


  1. Did you intend the pun about fighting the continued growth of beards?

    Conan looks much better with a beard, I'll say that. I couldn't grow a full beard myself--I'm more going for the comic book supervillain thing.

  2. I have a friend who really has that look down. He doesn't shave at all, and his chin and upper lip are the only places that grow any hair, so he's got a wicked looking black moustache and goatee.

    As for the pun, I'd call it a happy accident that I decided to leave in afterward.