I just updated my Facebook picture for the first time in a couple months, and in so doing replaced the image of my previously rather tame facial hair with the 4 months of solid fur growth I'm currently sporting. The reaction was immediate. Within half an hour I'd had about 30 comments, with a battle taking place between 4 different people over whether or not I needed to shave. And I should note that these were not just those Facebook friends people have because they met at a party once, two years ago. In fact, I have known every person involved in that discussion for at least 10 years. And there they were, battling back and forth over facial hair that none of them had to wear, demonstrating yet again how bizarrely divisive beards can be.
I really don't understand the opposition. I'm not sure I ever will. I've heard theories, of course:
Some have claimed that many women hate beards because they represent something purely masculine and that they make their husbands and boyfriends shave to emasculate them. While I suppose I could see some psychological validity to that theory, it seems awfully dramatic for something so simple.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've heard women claim that men only grow facial hair when they're too lazy to shave, so it indicates laziness or slothfulness or some other comparable "-ness" that indicates that one is dirty and useless. While I'm certain there are cases where this is true, it seems so narrow minded that I like to believe people are above such generic profiling.
The reality behind the vehement opposition so frequently induced by beard growth is, as is often the case, probably somewhere in between these two extremes. But in a world where people routinely dye their hair, get tattoos and piercings, and wear all sorts of wild clothing and makeup it just seems totally bizarre to me that something which just grows naturally when you simply leave it alone can stir up so much fuss from so many people.