A popular feature on this site are the beards on the street photos. These are candid shots of bearded guys contributed by a photographer friend of the site. There is another kind of beard on the street, however. In recent months, while out bicycle riding on urban bike trails and through parks, I observed an astonishing variety of beards on homeless men. The problem of homelessness is huge and tragic and solving it is way beyond the scope of this blog. Here I’ll just take a moment to look at the homeless as bearded human beings rather than people to avoid or ignore.
One thing about beards on the homeless is that the beards are usually full beards at all-out growth levels. They grow without holding back, without apologies. There’s no shaping of a cheek line or a neck line. They usually let the full amount of beard fully grow. That’s a look rarely seen among the non-homeless bearded men. Why is that? Do they fear that an all-natural beard growth pattern might make them look too much like the homeless? Some state that letting it all grow naturally would make them look like a wolf man. Others fear that it looks unkempt or that the look is simply not acceptable.
Whatever may be the source, the pressure to shape precise cheek and neck lines is evidently quite intense. I figure that the all-natural full beard is viewed as extreme or untidy or even dirty simply because it’s so rarely seen. Few are brave enough to let it grow that way. And when it is seen, it’s seen most frequently on the homeless. And in those cases, because of the desperate situations of the homeless bearded men, the all-natural full beard gets associated with being unkempt and dirty.
The all-natural full beard does not have to be unkempt and dirty. Properly groomed and maintained, it’s just as tidy and clean as any other hair on the head. The look may be viewed as overpowering or extreme by some, but this is most likely because the look is so rarely seen outside the homeless population. The homeless population gives us a unique opportunity to see beards as they naturally occur. Next time you see one, thank him for that.