The Bigotry Towards Beardsmen Has Shifted

Eric Bandholz
The Bigotry Towards Beardsmen Has Shifted

Back in 2012 I launched Beardbrand as a way to help unite a community of Urban Beardsman. When I first grew my beard I constantly got snark remarks about being ZZ Top or Grizzly Adams. While those are notable and cool guys, it wasn't the type of persona I felt represented me. I wanted to show the world that a guy can have a beard, take care of his family, be an excellent co-worker, and be a steward of the community. Sadly, these were not common assumptions back then.

Well, after 5 years I feel like the world has shifted dramatically. Many athletes are growing their beards, creative professionals, and even those in the broadcast booths are having the confidence to wear a beard. It's no longer a faux pas to wear a beard in the corporate environment.

So with all the headway that's been made for men to grow and wear their beards, you'd think the bigotry would have ended. Well, sadly it seems as if it's gotten even worse.

But now it's now coming from within the community.

The Bearded Community

I started growing my first long(er) beard in 2008 when I was raising money for the charity Beards BeCAUSE out of Charlotte, NC. Those first few years of growing I didn't have much support from others locally. In fact, I knew very few "bearded guys." Due to the lack of support, I went through the all too common cycle of shaving my beard and growing it back. I kept that habit going until 2011 when I decided to embark on a beard growing journey.

While there still wasn't much of a local support network, the online communities had grown dramatically and I was able to learn so much about growing a beard, how to take care of it, how to power through the challenging days, and celebrate the good beard days. Online communities like BeardBoard and Bearded Gents fostered an overwhelmingly positive and fair perspective of beard growth.

Now, these established communities are out there and they continue to be a positive resource for thousands of men. In addition to those, some new ones came up, like r/beards, our YouTube & online community, and several different Facebook communities.

In fact, you can almost narrow down your exact preference of beard type and the type of community to connect with. It's an awesome time to have a beard and to find a brotherhood. But it's not all roses.

The bigotry of beardsmen by beardsmen

See among some of these communities, there has been a growing sect of hateful and intolerant beardsmen. I see it a lot more in our YouTube & Facebook comments than ever before.

Just take a look at this negativity:

Negative Social Media Comments

Now, from my observations, our YouTube channel has much more positive & constructive criticism than our Facebook page which seems to be more hateful. There is a pressure for guys to keep a long beard - that it's not acceptable to have a shorter beard or no beard at all.

We've been working so hard to get rid of comments like these:

That we've been blind to the rise of comments like these:

And here's the thing, the negative comments do have affects on people as mentioned here:

Here's how we change things

So I'm not one to sit back and let the world move in the wrong direction. I think we have control of our community and it's our responsibility to make sure we spread a positive message. Afterall, it's that leading by example which sets us apart from the others. While emotion gets us all (myself especially), it's important to step back and analyze our words and actions.

So here's some simple rules to help grow positivity for our bearded community.

Rule 1) People are all different, and that's ok.
Rule 2) People have a right to make opinions about others.
Rule 3) People's opinions will be regarded with higher esteem if they are delivered in a constructive or positive manner.
Rule 4) Name calling and belittling is done by those who are dealing with their own insecurities.
Rule 5) You're actions make an impact on the world. You can be a positive change for good.

Now, here's the thing. Let's say you've grown your beard out and found the journey awesome (like many of us have). If you are like me, you've had people who you strive to be like or want to model your beard after. If they shave or trim you feel like you've lost your benchmark and that sucks. It's normal to feel let down or to think that the person made a bad decision. The reality is that we don't know the full picture of their life and they may be considering other things that aren't apparent to you.

So a best commenting strategy would be something along the lines of, "I really loved your long beard and I'm bummed that you shaved it. That being said, I respect your right to do it." or "In my opinion, your beard looked it's best at 4 inches in length but it's cool you are trying new things."

Both of these comments are critical of the actions, but they are delivered in a way that doesn't belittle the person behind the beard. It's a fine line between constructive and negative. If you are ever on the fence with a comment, try to spin it towards the positive side.

If you feel a community has gone down a negative cycle, then take action and bring in some positivity. It may be hard and an upwards battle - but it won't go unnoticed. The challenge in these situations is not to fall back on the very thing that is happening. For instance, "No one gives a shit about your opinions you fuckwad" is not a very good way of bringing positivity back into the conversation. Something more along the lines of, "hey guys, remember these are real people on the other side of the internet and we only get a picture into their decisions. Try to deliver your opinions in a more positive light!"

Most people want to be better people, but at the same time it can be hard to acknowledge when we've been a dick. Allowing people to gracefully step away from their actions will help people correct their words rather than coming back with guns ablaze.

Here's to making the world and the internet a happier and better place. There's no reason for intolerance, bigotry, and hate to persevere. Fight to do what's right and keep on growing!

Next articles

  • Eric and the rest of the Beardbrand Team,

    Just a a quick Thank You for all of the help you are providing over the internet and to help shape peoples perception of the stuff that grows out of our faces. I had a beard 20 years ago and it was, “Mehhhh” as I had no clue on how to take care of it and yes, subsequently it came off and stayed off for 20 years. I did not think that I had the dna to grow one that I would be happy with and then I got, allergic to myself (or so it seemed). I developed dermatitis which got worse as soon as I did not shave for a couple of days and my dermatologist at the time just said to keep it shaved. Fast forwards a bunch of years and you guys came into my life with your online encyclopedia of beardism and I gave it another shot. I would never have imagined that just using beard-oil and a little bit of work would take care (yeah, your balms n stuff too) of the skin condition and also help with the look in general.

    Now, I have been very fortunate in my life that no one (or should I say many?) has harassed me for my beard though I have certainly seen it around me and its the same as many other bigoted topics, stupid and narrow minded and I am glad that the Beardbrand team is helping in opposing narrow minded #*.

    That’s all thanks to you guys so… Thanks and keep em coming :)

    Pierre on

  • Eric: Just wanted to say that I am very impressed with how you deal with negative feedback. As for me, I decided to grow my beard about six months ago, but this time I wanted to do it the right way. And I learned about the right way from your website! I did not make the mistake (this time) of trimming the neck line too high (i.e. up to and along the jaw line). And I tried your products mainly because I was impressed by the honest candor that you and others (Jeff, Carlos, etc) put out there with each and every video. (By the way, the utility balm is my personal favorite!) And I also grew my beard to the point that it’s length was beginning to really crimp my style. So I have trimmed mine back as well. Not as short as you did, but as you say, we are all different. And besides, hair is one of the ultimate renewable resources. So consider the source of the naysayers, and BEARD ON!

    Lou on

  • Kudus Eric for having the courage and the balls to articulate so well the unique feature of being a bearded man. As you know so well, there are any number of personal reasons that a man chooses to let his man flag fly, and ultimately, his personal esteem and confidence projected out to the universe provides sufficient feedback and validation for being all the man he can become. The warped negativity speaks right back to the sender who is severely conflicted of who he is, and, seeks to shrink, ridicule or shame others for being themselves. Your Beardsmen community can only threaten those that are developmentally handicapped and who feel some distorted need to judge and condemn others’ who represent the distinguished refinement of many cultured beard grooming standards and styles. BIG DEAL! Your integrated, holistic approach to informing, and hopefully educating, men to consider options for “their” look and appeal keeps evolving. This is empowerment provided by astute personal experience and leadership, thank you. Any guy whose had a woman rake her beautiful painted fingertips through your beard will attest to the compliment and turn-on it generates. WHOA YEAH!! Live and let live brothers, as that kaleidoscope of life turns towards a new you, express it as a gruff, scruffy, tough signature of masculinity or perhaps, consider the several options of urban styles that take this glorious manly feature to new levels. Celebrate each other in what is possible…beard-on brothers.

    John Mushinski on

  • Great article, especially the last paragraph, and great advice. As the old Mock Latin phrase puts it: “Illegitimi non carborundum” — “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.

    Leo on

  • Great article. Knowing that a good dude such as yourself is at the helm of beardbrand makes it easy to support. As someone who’s been rocking a beard since 2012 as well I can say it’s been interesting to see how perceptions have changed. It’s sad that some people have to be so hateful.

    Joey B on

  • Consider the source. That’s what I always do with any negativity – especially when it’s aimed at my beard – I just consider the source. Do I really care at all what so-and-so thinks of my appearance?! Of course not. But it also can work in a positive way. My beard’s biggest supporter is my 13-year old daughter. If she finds out I’ve clipped even 4 or 5 unruly hairs, I’m liable to get chewed out – so that spurs me on to just let it go for another few months or so without trimming. I do care what my three kids think of it – but that’s the extent of letting others influence my beard. Just consider the source.

    Live gnarly or die! (just a joke – buzzed trimmed beards are also very, very cool)

    Steve on

  • I appreciate you and everybody at Beardbrand. Keepin it real an positive. Y’all have helped me countless times on my beard growing journey. An honestly i could care less what another man decides to do with his own face. A persons character is more important. And u are a person of great character my friend.

    Steve on

  • Awesome Article… Facebook sucks, and nearly every comment on it is negative, regardless of “page/community”. It was literally YOUR website and YouTube videos that gave me the information and instructions needed to be confident in growing out my beard. I haven’t shaved it in 4 years. Thanks and keep up the great work! (maybe consider a G+ page)

    Ron on

  • Բարև(Hello) from Armenia. Great article! I support everything what is written here.
    I started growing beard from 2015, and Beardbrand was my main source for learning and ultimate provider of a good beard image in the society.
    Thank you Eric and Beardbrand team.

    Sargis Ghonyan on

  • Hey dude, I have always felt that you’ve been positive and encouraging and full of great advice and tips (and your beard rocks!)

    My own beard journey has been a joy but that’s not to say I havnt had days where I want to shave it off in frustration. Frustration of having to constantly tame my thick, curly mane each morning, or of being told ’you’ve got lots of grey hairs mate’. but then I have a shower, throw in some lovely beardBrand balm, run my comb through and think, I look ace! And that’s the key, I like it, doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t.

    I’ve been growing, trimming and styling my beard for a year now, and it’s thanks to you and this community, and the lovely folks at ‘cut & grind’ that I feel confident in my skin. I’ve never really paid much attention to my appearance in the past but I now confidently strut my stuff all thanks to a couple of extra inches of hair on my face.

    Stay classy dude and beard on!

    :)

    Tom A on

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