To Beard or Not to Beard

Brent_Nichol_webThe phenomenon known today as “No Shave November” started out as a way of spreading awareness for cancers that specifically are in men, such as prostate and testicular cancer.
I wear a beard all year long; it’s part of who I am at this point. I’ve had my beard more than five years now but I still get the same disconcerted looks from people because of my beard, except during November. It has been a wide-spread social stigma that only bums have beards, and that men are somehow “dirty” if we do have a beard.
People forget that throughout history, great intellectual men such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and psychology legend Sigmund Freud had beards. It was a mark of maturity in many cultures for thousands of years.
So why does society forget the beard as that mark when in the last hundred years great men like presidents Grant, Lincoln, Hayes, Harrison, and Garfield all had beards.
Many people’s ancestors, and even religious figures such as Zeus, Odin, Hercules, Thor, Jesus Christ, Moses, Abraham, and Muhammad.
Mainly, we get this stigma from the fact that many poor men living on the streets cannot shave, due to poverty.
They also cannot bathe, once again due to poverty.
So it is easy to see why society would associate that all men who have beards are dirty, but isn’t that as socially unacceptable as saying all Irishmen are drunks?
The question should be raised to these judging people: Would you view Jesus, Moses, or Muhammad the same way?
It is even such a social stigma now that most work dress codes are against men. While men are not allowed to grow their natural hair on their face at all or even have lengthy hair on their head, women are allowed to keep their long hair. This creates a double standard for men and women.
Remember this November as you see men with beards not to judge harshly and to understand that for some it is part of their religion; for others it’s their culture or maybe they are just supporting the men who fight cancer.
For those men participating in No Shave November or are starting your beards this year, here are some key tips: remember to wash your beard as much as you wash the hair on your head, there are specific oils and conditioners that can help you to keep your beard from being rough and wiry feeling, and there are even social groups you can join such as Bearded Brethren, and there is a company called “Good Beards” here in Iowa that specifically makes beard hair care products.
So grow them long, grow them strong and have a good No Shave November.

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