Of all the tired arguments hauled out by beard critics, perhaps the most irritating is the assertion that a man with a beard is hiding behind it. Rather than serving as a cover behind which the sheepish may cower, a beard draws attention to its owner, making him stand out from the beardless crowd. For those who are shy and self-conscious, and those who are lacking in self-confidence, growing a beard requires genuine courage and determination. Growing a beard is the opposite of hiding.
Whenever someone asks which beard style they should grow, based on what’s trendy and fashionable, I always recommend ignoring fashion trends altogether. Fashions come and go all the time. Beards are better than that. Beards transcend fashion. Grow the beard that you want.
Why should a man let the whims of fashion and trendiness dictate his choice of beard style — or whether to even grow a beard or not? I guess the willingness to ignore fashion trends is one of the reasons that bearded men tend to be “rugged individualists” and independent thinkers who don’t follow the crowd for the sake of conformity. They honor and uphold the innate desire to be bearded, regardless of what others may think.
This has nothing to do with a lack of concern about personal appearance, however. A well-groomed beard accentuates a man’s appearance. Most men take pride in their beards. If they did not, they might as well shave. The decision to shave, of course, should not be based on current fashion trends!
Whenever I would see someone who obviously had profuse beard-growing potential, but always kept the beard shaved off, leaving an appearance of perpetual five o’clock — or much later — shadow, I would think, “hmm, another ‘beard waster'”. I would wonder, “Why fight it? Why not give in to it and grow the beard, just to see how it turns out?” Ironically, in many cases, those blessed with plentiful beard development don’t want it or have little interest in growing a beard while so many others with scant beard potential would trade for it in an instant.
While I was in graduate school, I remember frequently seeing an undergraduate around campus who was a particularly striking example of a beard waster. One day when I was visiting a professor at the professor’s office, he mentioned that he wanted me to meet his assistant. He took me down the hall to another office to meet the assistant. I was stunned to see that the assistant was none other than the famous beard waster, and he had been wasting no more! The full beard and mustache that he had sprouted were industrial strength and could be categorized surely as “world class”. Months later, the beard was gone. I did not get a chance to ask why.
In the early days of “all about beards”, I stated on the home page that beards did not always get the respect and appreciation that they deserve. With that, the site had set out on a long-term mission of beard advocacy. A central idea was to create a place on the web to provide helpful information on growing a beard along with plenty of encouragement and some inspiration. Another objective was to provoke some thought on the subject of beards, to challenge the negative attitudes and stereotypes, and to have some fun in the process. In that regard, the site has met with quite a bit of success in the first ten years. However, there’s a lot more to be done. I’m taking the site into its second decade with lots of optimism and new ideas for enhancements and for strengthening the commitment to the mission of “all about beards”.