Having had a beard since way before it was cool to have a beard, I can tell you there have been some highs and lows.
You see, “Beards”, “Bacon”, and “Chuck Norris Jokes”, have been popularized for maybe 10 years-ish. The thing that all three share however, is that Beards, Bacon, and Chuck Norris were all awesome before that independent of what people thought about them. Cool is cool, and real "cool" is timeless, though sometimes it takes time for people to get it. I remember in 2008, fresh out of the desert wearing a 6 inch beard, I walked into a grocery store and saw a young mother cover her children, staring at me as I walked by. She obviously wasn't ready for full beards.
Beards however, have been on a man’s face since the cave days. We used to ALL have beards. I have a natural aversion to doing what everyone else is doing, and so recently I’ve kept my beard short as I’ve seen all these newbies get longer and longer beards, and talk about this and that of beard awesomeness.
Beards ARE cool, but unlike Chuck Norris Jokes, they are also functional. They are nature’s balaclava. I just walked outside in -5 degree weather, and my beard saved my face. If you spend too much time in cold weather, you’ll get condensation dongles from your beard (as illustrated above), but again, like Caribou fur, its just illustrating the fact that beards aren’t simply adornment, like dreadlocks or tattoos. Beards serve an evolutionary purpose.
Since I was a pioneer of the beard movement, I have the liberty of describing it without getting caught up in the current rhetoric. I can tell you, that too much mustache just isn’t functional. Soup, and powdered donuts are out the window. I had recently let the mustache grow a little too long, ate a Costco hotdog, then approached the customer service counter for membership renewal, and the customer service lady kindly said, “Um, you have a little something on your beard….” which ended up being a BIG glob of mustard. Kuddos to Costco customer service lady, #truefriend.
I remember getting together with a few friends for a lunch, mustache overgrown, and I had to use one napkin per chicken wing. From a forest standpoint, mustaches and beards are not sustainable based on a 1:1 napkin:wing ratio.
They also require a lot of maintenance. Many proponents of beard-dom are also proponents of minimalist living. They talk of “getting back to basics” and start buying , organic, gluten-free soap (which ironically, costs twice as much as regular soap). A properly cared for beard, washed as much as is necessary to ACTUALLY be clean, (not just have the appearance of cleanliness,) takes time, devotion, and water. An exceptionally long beard also takes time to comb. Brushes won’t do. You have to comb it, and get all the tangles out for it to appear in its grandest form. I’m not sure of anyone who has had a long beard and is even reasonably self-aware, that hasn’t wondered if they have allowed their beard to become their own idol.
Let me share some information with the rookies, that have a long beard, and haven’t ever started over. I’ve had a beard of at least 5 inches, on 3 separate occasions. I have had a beard for 90% of my adult life. And having been conscientiously hygienic, meaning, you don’t just lather shampoo into the beard and rinse it out, but you massage it in with a comb, rinse, and repeat…. Even THEN, when I took it back down to face, there was all sorts of dead skin and shampoo residue on the bottom layer. I know the ladies cuddling up to big-bearded men are wearing love-goggles- the hygiene science of beards past about 3 inches based on my personal research is pretty gross.
I’m not hating or bashing big beards. To the contrary. I think its been great for men to be men, to be the masters of their ships and the captains of their face. But there are also many that think that if beard-dom equals masculinity, then bigger is better, in harmony with true masculine logic. Let me tell you, that having been to the place called Big-beard, and having seen the ramifications of the sacrifice in meals, acquaintances, and time, I can tell you- brethren, there is a different way. You don’t have to have a massive beard. You can have a shorter beard, which keeps you in the club, and you can eat soup again! Or hot dogs! You’ll actually be able to kiss a woman’s lips without a furry gasket in between! You won’t have to carry wet-wipes with you, or go to the bathroom to hose off after every meal!
But if you STILL, after all the encouragement, insist on going big or going home, at least talk about the safety risks with your love interests. For your doctor’s sake, mention the dangers of the creatures lurking beneath the upper canopy of the rain-forest-like ecosystem that is thriving in your inner beard, so they know better how to protect themselves while treating you.
If you’re going to beard, beard responsibly.