Men grow beards. It’s just something we do. Whether that beard is full and dense or patchy and sparse, whether it’s grown for a full year or just for the duration of a week-long vacation in the Caribbean, whether we keep them indefinitely or decide they aren’t for us, at some point every dude will take a crack at sporting some kind of man mane on his face.
But there is a psychology to beards that most men don’t ever think of, nor even realize exists. But thanks to the power of the internet we are now able to learn the most intricate details about absolutely everything from “How to yodel” to “Why people snore” to what our beards say about us as men.
The Washington Post published an article that delves into the implications behind our beards, and the findings are somewhat interesting.
“Historically, the beard ‘was universally regarded as an emblem of manliness and dignity,’ wrote the New York Times in 1924, ‘and the imagination does not tolerate the thought of a patriarch or patriot or prophet with a razor in his hand.’ Around the turn of the first millennium, an elderly Laconian was asked why he wore his beard so long. His reply, according to Greek historian Plutarch: ‘It is that, seeing continually my white beard, I may do nothing unworthy of its whiteness.’ Beards make men live up to them, in other words.”
This is a sentiment that seems to ring true with beardsmen today. While growing a beard in and of itself isn’t inherently a declaration of any kind, nor an attempt to have a yardstick with which to measure up to, there is no denying that men’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them tend to change as they fully embrace their beards. For a lot of men, there comes a higher amount of attention paid to personal style and grooming, caring for their beards and looking their best, dressing better, and generally taking better care of themselves. The catalyst for this change is often the beard itself – as the wearer strives to keep his beard looking good, his hair, clothing, shoes, and personal style all tend to follow suit. Maybe there is something to be said for the idea that our beards really do make us live up to them.
The article goes on to further explain that in a world where “the media exert profound control over celebrities, and vice versa, a beard may be a famous man’s only natural way to say, ‘Hey, I exist, and I am sole groomer of my image. Look at my beard. Just look at it. There is nothing you can do about it.'”
Citing examples like David Letterman’s retirement beard and Zayn Malik’s “I’m not in One Direction anymore” beard, there is credibility to the idea that beards make statements. The Post points out that “[a]mong normal people in 2016, beards are a sign of conformity, not rebellion. Everyone has a beard.”
And while beards are an increasing norm, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are a sign of conformity. If anything, I believe they are a sign of community. We’ve reached a point where the concept of the completely-shaven man being the ideal look of professionalism has gone out the window – beardsmen can be artists, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. We’ve banded together as a bearded community to change the way society views beardsmen, and we are starting to show the world that our beards can be signs of bucking traditions and societal norms, and thinking outside the box.
So gentlemen, the question is – what does your beard say about you? Apparently a lot more than you may think.