I have always been a bit anti-beard. I thought men with beards were hiding behind it, or worse had something hidden in it. And I’m not the only one. Roald Dahl had similar thoughts (see The Twits) and once called out Michael Rosen for having one proclaiming “it’s disgusting!”. Growing up in the 1980s I missed the 70s trend for beards. But then came the recent hipster revival and suddenly beards were everywhere, and this trend (apparently) reached peak-beard a few years ago.
So most of my life I’ve been beardless. But this week, following a couple of days without having access to my shaver (humblebrag alert – when climbing Ben Nevis), I thought I’d give the beard a go. You might be wondering why I’m blogging about this, well the reason is that my facial fashion choice elicited some interesting responses. Some people said nothing. Others asked if I was growing a beard, and why. Someone else commented on the facial distribution of the growth (a few gaps apparently). My PhD supervisor did their job and gave honest feedback, it doesn’t suit me apparently (you can judge for yourself below).
After a few days of this I suddenly became more conscious of my appearance. If someone didn’t comment then I wondered why not, if they did comment I then tried to work out if there was a deeper meaning. Then I thought some more. Imagine if my life was governed, or influenced, by others constantly judging my appearance. But of course this is the case for many in our world. People are judged on skin colour, religion, culture, gender, (dis)ability and many, many other grounds. As a white, middle class, middle aged male I just don’t experience this. And as much as I try to live my woolly liberal views I’m probably judging others myself, so in future I really need to check myself, and look beyond someone’s metaphorical beard.