Archive for March, 2006

on not having beard genes

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

A while ago, I received a terrific essay from a site visitor. It was titled Ode to Not Having The Whisker Gene. The piece conveys a sense of some of the anxiety and disappointment experienced by so many. Yet the author has the right attitude. The best that anyone can do is to accept themselves, make the most of what they’ve got, and be happy with that. The author gave permission to share his essay on this site. This is what he wrote:

Ode to Not Having The Whisker Gene

At age 14 I noticed some fuzz on my lip. I was ecstatic!! I immediately told my dad who promptly bought me my own razor and shave cream!

I shaved each day for nearly a month, then at the urging from dad I stopped for a few days to await the results. I was devastated. I was disappointed. I was hairless.

Dad said, “Just wait, give it time.”

I put away the razor.

At age 15 I noticed more hair on “other” parts of my body and tried the shaving thing again… nothing! I was so despondent… some of my junior high pals were showing signs of wispy mustaches and shadows on the chin. “What about me?” I asked.

I put away the razor.

For my 18th birthday I was determined to have some whiskers. I shaved every day for a month prior to my birthday, then stopped a week before that fateful morning…. there was something there! an ever so light dusting of the faintest of dark hairs filling the space between my lips and nose. Rapture! I was so excited! It was working! I was growing my much sought after mustache! I was now a man!

Much to my dismay, it didn’t get much darker or heavier as the days progressed. …sigh…

I then looked at my dad and older brothers and realized they didn’t have much brush growing on their faces either. Was it a family curse? What was up?!?

After high school, I enlisted in the Air Force. I had to shave EVERY day, whether I needed it or not! Well, at least I felt like the other guys, of course my shaving took all of 10 minutes while some of the Neanderthals in my flight took half-an-hour or more to scrape the pelts off their faces.

When I got a point in my military career where I didn’t have to shave everyday… guess what!?!?! I had a mustache! A real, honest-to-goodness, respectable, noticeable-from-a-distance, mustache. I didn’t even realize it until I went home and my sister said, “Hey, nice mustache!”

Alas, I have never been able to grow much more than that. At 30 I finally accepted the fact that I would never grow a beard or even a goatee, oh well… I’m still a man and I feel good about it.

Now at 47, I have no problem with my masculinity and don’t fret about trying to prove my manliness by growing a beard. In fact, I shaved my mustache and got incredible compliments! I was told I look younger and more handsome (they said!).

Still, it would be nice to watch the transformation of my face, from smooth to hirsute, but I don’t lose any sleep over it.

triumphs of the naysayers

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

Countless times I have heard from guys who are all pumped up and enthusiastic about growing their beards, then later they report with a whimper that they unceremoniously abandoned the effort. What was the common element that destroyed all this beard growth, optimism, and enthusiasm? Harsh, negative comments from naysayers.

What empowers the naysayers to burst the bubbles of so many budding beard growers? What gives them the authority to rain on someone else’s parade, so to speak? Why do they feel entitled to harshly criticize another’s appearance so thoughtlessly, simply because of a new beard? Such blatant criticism would likely be deemed inappropriate or unacceptable if directed at some other physical aspect, but the naysayers seem to think it’s a right — even a duty — to put the new beard grower “in his place” with a verbal bashing.

A new beard grower usually could use as many confidence boosts as possible. He’s taking a risk, stepping out of the comfort zone. He doesn’t really know how the beard will turn out, how it will finally look. In the early stages of growth, it can frequently be difficult to predict how good the fully-grown beard will look. It’s a delicate stage of the game and confidence can be extremely shaky. One good attack from a naysayer may be all it takes to convince someone to completely give up the effort of growing a beard — usually before the beard growth had progressed sufficiently for the grower to make a fair assessment of it himself.

New beard growers, take heart and stand firm! Don’t hand the naysayers another victory. Take a stand that you will not abandon the beard as a reaction to a naysayer. Before rushing for the clippers or razor, come back to “all about beards” for some confidence building and don’t give up!