Some men feel facial hair defines their manhood.
The idea of beards and manliness go hand in hand these days.
With the revival of manliness as an ideal to be pursued, beards have carved out a significant niche in society.
Being in the business of providing quality grooming products to bearded men, I’m frequently encountering the latest and greatest of the movement related to increasing manliness.
I’m excited about the huge interest being generated on men’s issues lately, and for the important work being done by groups such as The Good Men Project.
But I’m also worried about something that nearly all of my business competitors take for granted, which is the existence of a so-called “bearded lifestyle”.
The “bearded lifestyle” promotes a theory of manliness that hinges on the growth of facial hair—a trait shared by nearly every man on earth since the dawn of time.
With the bar set so low, almost nothing can exist to differentiate between good and bad men.
Not to mention that building a lifestyle around a normal, genetic, physical trait is the stuff of ethnic pride groups.
Naturally men who see their beards as their ticket into the collective lifestyle are less likely to instigate violence against those people who do not share their views than ethnically-based groups are, but they are both equally guilty of suppressing intellect, reason, and philosophy— the tools all men need to live a good and fulfilling life on earth.
If we are truly concerned about what it means to be a man, surely we must dig deeper than the follicles on our faces if we are to have any hope of answering that question and becoming aware of the actions we need to take to satisfy the conditions of a manly life.
It is easy to think that all of this is harmless marketing fluff. Some happy camaraderie between men who both have chosen not to shave their natural occurrence of facial hair. How could that hurt?
But insofar as the movement limits real discussion —“why go any deeper? I know that I’m a man because I have a beard!”— and stops men from having to examine the issues intellectually and with reason, it is a burden and hinders rather than helps our ability to learn the truth and act as men ought to act.
To all those men who have found a home and acceptance in the “bearded lifestyle,” I urge you to consider asking yourself how having facial hair helps you achieve greatness in your day to day life when it comes to making choices that affect whether you prosper or fail, grow or shrink, live or die.
Certainly you’ll find shreds of virtuous thought in each company’s or person’s explanation of the bearded lifestyle.
Taking care of your appearance with proper grooming techniques.
Taking the time to craft a morning grooming habit.
Focusing on self-improvement.
Get back to nature.
But these things should not rely on beardedness to be considered good, for it is a weak foundation for a lifestyle. There is no rational, reasoning basis for any of it, and when argued against, it cannot be defended.
Should we really sacrifice important aspects of manliness to this idea, which, when challenged with reason, will fall and take with it all that it stands for?
No, of course not. Whatever your view on manliness and the aim of your life, let us at least refrain from claiming facial hair as the motivating factor.
I love having a beard.
I love becoming a better man.
But I know that for manliness to become a legitimate factor in the lives of men across the country, and even the world, it must have a firm, philosophical base.
All I’m saying is that having a beard isn’t that base.
Photo: Getty Images