I recently read an article titled Did Gillette and Mad Men Kill the Beard. While the article doesn’t really offer a definite answer and is more about the advertising campaigns used by Gillette in the 20th century, it got me thinking. Is the beard truly dead?
Back in college, I had a free subscription to GQ (it’s not as easy as it should be to get the English version of this site while you’re in Ukraine) due to some leftover frequent flier miles. In one of the issues, I remember there being a list of 10 things every guy should do in their life. One of them suggested that every guy should grow a beard. The article went on to explain that it shouldn’t be a beard that you grow in college because you’re lazy or you want to keep your face warm during that trek across campus in the winter. No, you should grow a beard, a full beard, for the mere purpose of having one and maintaining one. Worst case scenario, the article suggested, is that you learn a beard isn’t for you and you shave it off. No harm done.
At the time when I read the article, I was immediately out of the running for beard growing. I mean, seriously, the article stated you shouldn’t grow one in college. But it wasn’t so much that I shouldn’t grow one as I couldn’t grow one. The last two years of college, I participated in No-Shave November. The results were dismal. What few hairs sprouted from my chin were sparse and patchy. I would have had a better beard had I shaved every day in November than to let it grow. I eagerly awaited for December 1st to shave away my shameful excuse for facial hair.
Last November, I participated in Movember (Mustache November) and the results were a little better. I could shave every bit of my face, except the mustache. Sure, it looked silly in the first few weeks, but it really started to fill out towards the end. I liked it so much, I kept it during December and on into January while I grew out the rest of my patchy face. There are pictures somewhere on this blog of the results but I can’t seem to find them, maybe I’m wrong.
At some point towards the end of June, I decided that I was going to attempt a beard once more. This time, the beard would be allowed to grow and flourish on my rosy cheeks. Though, to be fair, the cheeks are the part of my face where the least growing takes place. It’s in my genes. My brother, a few years older than me, has the same problems. And you know what? The more I leave it alone and let it grow, the nicer it comes in. I mean, it’s not an epic beard like Bill Murray in The Royal Tenenbaums but it’s a start.
From here on out, I’m going to let it grow. Already I’ve had to deal with people telling me to shave. Earlier this week, I spoke to Lyuda and she urged me to shave. She explained that men having beards is not common in Ukraine. That if a man has a beard, he’s most likely homeless. To this I asked, “What about priests? Do they have beards?” Yes. “What about foreigners? Do they have beards?” Yes. “So there are exceptions?” Yes. Then I went on to explain that I wasn’t growing a beard for Lyuda, I was growing a beard for me. That’s the only person I know who needs to be happy that I’m growing a beard. Later, I wished I had asked her to cut her hair a certain way in response to her telling me to shave. It’s the same principle.
So, while some people suggest the beard is dead and others think they have a monopoly on my face, I’m going to do what I can to bring my beard to its fullest form.