The daily struggles in the life of this one guy and his beard.
Most men seem like they’re struggling with reclaiming facial hair on some level. As a guy who has sported a beard for at least 2 years and gotten much praise, it’s not easy. It doesn’t grow in where you have scars, and I have many scars from many fights. It gets itchy. It might get you into a biker bar, but when you don’t drink booze you might get your ass kicked too.
Once people see a beard on a guy, they immediately jump to conclusions, whether they’re good or bad. “Oh, he looks dangerous. Oh, maybe he’s a criminal.” Dude, my stuff is nothing. I’ve damn near been to jail, but managed to skate by, but my face was cleaner than a newborn baby’s butt during that time. I was just a jerk and a crazy person. Any modicum of fuzz on my face was not a referendum on my behaviour or any sort of an advertisement of a lack of decorum. My beard is not me as a person.
I hung out with a friend the other day and mentioned that I had just been on a job interview. I lamented the process of the interview, as I’d been rushed in by a very understandably harried young lady and had to think on my feet. However, I’d also just walked 1.5 miles over Los Angeles pavement in 90-degree Fahrenheit heat, and could have stood for some water and some time to relax and gather my thoughts. Regardless, I dove right in and performed as best as I could at the time, continuously mopping my brow due to heat and anxiety. They liked my attitude.
They liked my beard.
Whether or not this prospect shakes out, that same friend said “Hey, dude. No offense, so don’t get mad at me, but…have you thought of shaving off the beard for other job interviews?”
I was nearly immediately offended. I keep my business tight, it looks solid, I don’t look like I’m about to pass out in a tent at Coachella while desperately begging someone for toilet paper and water. I’m sure as hell not going to a Phish concert any time soon, and Burning Man is out of the question. But still, apparently, my facial hair should be a point of shame according to some folks. Not necessarily my friend, because he was just making a rational assertion based on his own personal experiences as another dude with facial hair, but I’ve been weirdly shamed for it in the past. And that’s strange. Considering all of the horrible things that most people saddle others with over time, the idea of making a heterosexual white male feel bad about something is sort of awkward, because most people waste their time being idiots who slut-shame women, who make homophobic jokes, who toss out racist slurs like they’re pennies. Considering that a lot of people spend their time being assholes about way more important, self-defining things that make a person who they are, are you really going to decide to be that petulant about facial hair?
Yes, they are. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s one more category with which people can divide themselves from others and be judgmental. And that’s stupid. That just further hamstrings us as a culture. I understand if it’s BAD facial hair. If it looks like you just glued your pubes to your chin, get rid of that nonsense. We don’t have time for that. But if you pre-judge me for my viability as a hardware store cashier because I have a beard, that’s dumb. If you think that I’m just some hair farming idiot from Hollywood who doesn’t really want a desk job, that’s really silly. I’m not going to compare my plight to anyone else who’s had to deal with legitimate discrimination, but there’s a degree of corporate cleanliness that just seems stupid, especially because it’s generally perpetuated by a bunch of old white dudes with no chins. Can we just cut the shit and let people have facial hair, as long as it’s not dropping into someone’s food or ruining someone’s life?
But no matter what, it’ll be a thing. And that’s fine. I’ll keep my stuff and save the clean-shaven business for dudes who have ten years up on me. For example, there’s presumably a reason Jon Hamm lets his freak flag fly when they’re not doing Mad Men: because it feels good.For more on the stigmata of the beard check out Hirsute Phoenix: Conchita Wurst, Beards, and the Politics of Sexuality.