Archive for August, 2006

going natural: other beards on the street

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

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.

the most-frequently-asked question about beards

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Through the site, I get lots and lots of questions about beards all the time. Over the years, the question that I get most often comes from guys who report having little or no beard development. They ask if there is a cream, a medicine, or some other remedy that they can use to produce beard growth.

The sad truth is that there is no magic solution to produce beard growth where there is little or none. If the guy is young, patience may be the answer, as there is always the chance that he will develop more facial hair in the future. Otherwise, unless there is a medical problem inhibiting beard development, there’s really not much that can be done.

Many who ask this question express having a great deal of anxiety over their insufficient beard growth. Some have even reported contemplating suicide because of extreme frustration and powerful feelings of inferiority that stem from the inability to grow a beard. I recognize that it is a serious problem for them. Although others may insensitively dismiss it as being trivial, it is not. For many, the pain and frustration are profound.

I encourage all guys to work on accepting the level of beard development that they have and learning to make the most of it. If it still bothers a guy enough, I encourage him to consult a medical doctor. The doctor may not be able to help him develop more beard growth, but should be able to assist the patient in understanding the situation and help him to build coping skills. This is one of the toughest lessons about beards.