The Legend of the Perfect Beard

O29pdxN - ImgurIn every person there is an itching desire for perfection. The perfect life, perfect beauty, perfect relationships, the perfect job, and above all…the perfect beard. The perfect beard is elusive, like spotting a ghost, its legendary, like the fountain of youth, and it’s magical, like sirens, but deadly, also like sirens. Many people think that they have seen the perfect beard, but they lie. It every man’s beard therein dwells a flaw, not matter how slight. Some have a patch missing under the chin, others have one side that is thicker than the other. No matter the cause, imperfection is a mark of humanity.

And the perfect beard is a symbol, in the face of our imperfection, a symbol of an idea. This idea dwells in the hearts of men everywhere no matter how deeply hidden. Like a jewel buried deep under ground for safe keeping, but eventually forgotten. That men desire to be a hero, a Robin Hood, an Achilles, a Bruce Wayne. But often we are to frightened, and the beard becomes every man’s courage, his mask, that allows him to become more. More courageous, more selfless, and more determined to stand for what he believes in.

And that is what it is to be man, to be more than yourself, to step up when others won’t, to see the truth and fight for it, no matter the cost. And our beards show us the way, because the beard isn’t just something a man grows, its something a man becomes. It’s an ideology, a philosophy and when it comes down to it, the man who becomes more, no matter how patchy, has a perfect beard.

 

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Miracle Grow For Beards!

vitabeard-475x400-newA new market has arisen in the wake of the newly embraced beard culture of the west: beard fertilizer. This may seem bizarre and unnecessary (perhaps not as unnecessary as facial hair transplant surgery though), but despite what you may or may not consider normal, beard fertilizer is the real deal. In this case study we look to VitaBeard, a dietary supplement said to promote beard growth that, “provides critical nutrients to help your facial hair grow faster and stronger than ever before” (beardvitamin.com). 

This in lieu of our ever expanding study of beard culture, is surely supportive of the claim the beards are a newly booming cultural shift into the affirmative of facial hair among men. Although this is not the first time cultural has swung in favor of the beard, this is the first time that technology has allowed for the trend to be applied in more radical and extreme measures. No longer is the beard club limited to the genetics lottery, but modern men are now able to take control of the situation regardless of the familial gene pool. The same man once called a naked mole rat can now fork over 8,000 dollars for a transplant surgery and take some vitamins and now he is the burliest man in the room. Which naturally leads to the thought of what other modern trends are repeats of past ones and how has technology effected these the degree to which these modern pedigrees trend is exhibited (although this isn’t in the sphere of my blog).

Also what does this say about exclusivity? Has technology made exclusivity dead? Heres is my theory:

Since the dawn of time people have been creating, following, breaking down, and recreating trends. But as Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat it’s self, but it rhymes.” And perhaps technology is just our modern “rhyme” of historical trends.

Join the Beard-Wagon!

Here is a video that illustrates (quite effectively) the subculture of bearded men, and how beards are a definitive symbol for social change: Enjoy!

After watching I hope that it is as apparent to you as it is to me that beards are more than meaningless hair, but in fact an intentional affiliation to a specific people group. We observe a bearded fellow go on a journey of rejecting a civilized society that demands him to shave his beard, he goes on a bus ride to a foreign land that see beards a symbol of freedom from civilized/oppressive culture and form a new society. This society in turn revolts against the established society and conquers the opposing territory. This is at the core of the bearded man, the attitude of “what if things were different?” The beards themselves fought off the evil formal culture and gave the men who bore beards superhuman like abilities, which leads to the question: Do beards enhance the wearer of the beard? Could it be that the beard acts to amplify, or set free, the already existing traits within a the non bearded man? It has been shown in multiple studies that beards increase confidence in males and also increase perceived intimidation by others. This group of rejecters of society and empowered individuals ban together, a form a new subculture and form there own set of morals and definition of social norms. At the core of beard culture is the Robin Hood message (the us against them). But the question that sparks my curiosity is thus: Is it societies perception that lumps the bearded folk into a group, or is it fellow beardies who naturally gravitate towards each other to for a subculture? I suppose that it most likely is a combination of the two, but none the less I believe that beards are here to stay until a) the revolutionary spirit is satisfied or b) the revolutionary spirit goes to to its slumber.

Old Fellow, Big Heart

beard,blackandwhite,hair,old,portrait,human-3e7daa7743a94bcd4f27066df13b8f00_hThroughout this semester I have had some up’s and downs with my decision for choosing the ever so narrow subject of beards. But just as I feel I am scratching the bottom of the barrel for intriguing information regarding beards and beard culture I find a gem. And I believe this week is a gem. The subject of this post is two part: First, is emotion and beards. It is my belief that beards naturally enhance the emotion of the bearded individual. What I mean is that when someone is angry, and they so happen to have a beard, well then they will most likely look pissed, or if they are happy, with the beard, their jubilant. In other words, beards are an emotion enhancer. To prove this I found some beautiful pictures of old men and beards, which in fact leads me to part two. Beards make for some beautiful photography. At this point I’m pretty convinced that no matter how crappy of a photographer you are if you a shooting a bearded fellow (especially if he is old) it is virtually guaranteed to be a great picture. I’m not quite sure what it is but the each of these pictures just longs for a story to be told and I can’t help but wonder what those stories are. I also can’t help but wonder what each of these bearded brothers looks like without his beard. So as you scroll though these photos just take a second on each one and experience the emotion that person is conveying to you. Try to see what they are thinking. And also be aware of how the beard effects the way you interact with that photo, does it enhance your emotional response? Next week I plan on getting more into the nitty gritty of the beard as an emotion enhancer.

walt-whitman1 unnamed poor-old-man Orthodox-Jews-003 Orthodox-Beard-001 Old+Man+with+beard-1-4 old_man_with_long_beard-t2 homeless-dude-big-beard Big Old Man Beard Book of Beards beard,blackandwhite,hair,old,portrait,human-3e7daa7743a94bcd4f27066df13b8f00_h 102052433

A Beard & A Woman

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome ImagesI suppose it was only a matter of time until I came to this subject. A subject that most are filmier with, but few (very few) are expert in. A subject so subtly taboo and plausibly sexist that none enjoy the discussion. And before I begin dissecting the “Bearded Lady” legends please note that all opinions presented are not final and are subject for future modification.

In the modern scope of gender equality and equal opportunity it seems natural to talk about woman with beards.  Perhaps on not obvious, but natural none the less. As it is, the bearded lady is a pristine example of gender neutrality. Prior to the feminist movement in the late 20th century , bearded women were ofter subject to the entertainment industry, especially the circus. These women were spectacles of entertainment and awe providing audiences everywhere with amusement. But bearded woman aren’t in the fan fair spotlight any more, rather bearded woman aren’t even a blip of the radar of society. They have been removed from a pedestal in the entertainment spotlight and received the isolating sentence of the social blind eye. Why? As I have theorized beards are in fact indicators for altering social norms and females with beards are an extremophile within this subject. So maybe its because in modern society women want to be treated like men in the sphere of capital gains, but looking like them is not on the check list. Or perhaps because society is nervous to discuss the subject of gender androgyny. Or I suppose that it could be that people simply just aren’t amused by bearded woman any more. Whatever the cause I find it fascinating, and it is my hypothesis that the role of the bearded woman in society is that they are a thermometer the take temperature of the society and diagnose the degree of liberalism within it. Whether for good or for bad, bearded woman are more than meets the eye.

Mischievous Mustached Men

jafar_I remember growing up as a kid, I lived for the weekend. Not even the whole weekend, I lived for Saturday, more specifically Saturday morning cartoons. I remember grudgingly get up each morning for school, but on Saturday I was up with the sun, T.V. turned on and ready for a 6 hour binge of cartoons. When I was little I surely didn’t pay much attention to the cultural nuance’s of norms being presented through the good vs evil stereotypes. But looking back, I can to a sad realization: I was brainwashed to think mustaches are evil. Last week I posted about how Hitler single handed exterminated the toothbrush mustache from the face of the earth (seemingly his only successful extermination). Since then I have been thinking more exclusively about mustaches in respect to mustache March. A lot of my friends are participating this year and have had some interesting remarks in regards to their experiences. For most they are saying that feel more “powerful and more confident”, and I can agree with them as I too have had a mustache (although not currently). Which begs for the obvious questions, “What is it about the stache that makes a man more self-confidence, and could this confidence lead to arrogance, and could this “mustache arrogance” be the first step to becoming a classic supervillian?” (Maybe not so obvious of a question). This question although difficult to prove does have substantial evidence (see the list below):

1. Dick Dastardly

dickdastardly 

2. Captain Hook

Peterpan2-disneyscreencaps_com-1915

3. Snidely Whiplash 

snidely-whiplash_rocky-and-bullwinkle

 

4. Wario and Waluigi

Wario_Waluigi

 

5. Yosemite Sam

Yosemite Sam

My current theory is that for 21st century culture, mustaches are not the norm, and those who grow a stache are bold enough to go against the norm. Once they have gone against the norm the stached individual now has “skin in the game” and feel a loyalty to their choice. And it could be that this loyalty leads the mustached man into a pride of his anti-cultural ways and thus begins an apathy towards good vs evil. So maybe if our Western world didn’t associate mustaches with being so anarchic more men would have one. I leave you with this thought: Does a supervillian grow a mustache or does a mustache grow a suppervillian?

Anti-Toothbrush Culture

Chaplin, Charlie (Circus, The)_01 Facial hair styles come and go, times change, cultures change. But what sparks the change? What is the catalyst that causes the avalanche of social revolution? If all the outputs and all the factors could be derived from one specific location, where would that location be?And more importantly…why is the toothbrush mustache socially illegal!?

During the early 19th this specific flair of facial hair fashion was a rising star amongst beard culture. The Toothbrush was less maintenance and less pizzaz-y then its contemporary styles. Charlie Chaplin was an advocate of the stache in the early 1900’s and it was gaining traction steadily, until Hitler, that is. Shortly after Chaplin’s rise to fame World War II began and the toothbrush lost affiliation with Hollywood and comedy and gain affiliation with Communism and genocide (a sad downgrade). The mustache style began to be known as the “Hitler Stache” and Post-World War II America made it socially taboo to rock it. It has been 70 years since then and the taboo still remains. You would think that with technology creating a cultural speedway of development worldwide that we would quickly transcend such a cultural triviality. But instead the stache-taboo has been further ingrained into, a now, global culture. Its so fascinating that although the amount of facial hair (or style) is irrelevant to the actual character and morals of the man, the way that that man is perceived by those around him (because of his facial hair) changes enormously. The future of the Toothbrush mustache seems bleak at this point as it has become a trademark of Fascism and evil as seen in the graph (see below). Humans ability to personify any and all objects is incredible, but unfortunate when the personification becomes too serious and imbedded into the fabric of the culture. Because at the end of the day we know that the Hitler Stache only has as much meaning as we (culture) let it.

adolf-hitlerBeard-Trustworthiness

The Presidential Persona

Abraham_Lincoln     There have been 44 presidents from the start of America until now and there have been many trade-offs amidst the Democrats and Republicans over a variety of issues between then and now. But there has been at least one thing the Presidents of the Republican party have a total monopoly on: Beards. Its true, to date there have only been 5 U.S. Presidents in American history that have had the ability / courage to grow a full beard for their term. Thats around 11% or 1 out of 10(-ish) of all Presidents have had a beard. But that isn’t even the most interesting part about it. All 5 of our beloved bearded Republican Presidents served their time (I mean term) between March 4, 1861 and March 4, 1889. Thats only a 28 year spread! During those 28 years there were 7 Presidents, and out of those 7 Presidents 5 of them had had beards.

It is my belief that Presidential appearance, for the most part, is directly correlated to what the people of America think (or want to be) a visible image of an American “leader”. So I poured over wikipedia for possible links between beards, and this specific time period in American history, to make it so commonplace for even the President to desire a beard. I found that during this time period America was at the tale end of the Westward expansion. I theorize that, as with most trends, the ideologies of the great American pioneers started via grassroots to gradually, through relational osmosis, to take hold into mainstream culture and gradually over time became a cultural norm. In other words as burly mountain men and lumberjacks (think Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan) formed a new culture in response to the different lifestyle demands of the West, they innovated a new American ethos (that included beards), and naturally the President would reflect these changes in cultural trends.

Benjamin_Harrison_PortraitJames_Abram_Garfield,_photo_portrait_seated

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President_Rutherford_Hayes

Religious Prerequisite # 1 : A Big Beard

Sikh - beardThis week I did something, I shaved off the bulk of my beard. I didn’t do it because I starred to lose my identity to it and I didn’t do it because of peer pressure, genuinely I did because I didn’t like the way I looked with such an intense beard. So I shaved it off (but I left the mustache…oh yeah). So I’m going to give the stache at least a week to see if it works for me. Anyway, recently I read about a story that broke out concerning the religious group Sikhism and how US military facial hair rules conflict with their religious regulations. For a long time now it has been common knowledge that if you want to join the military you have to forgo the beard and be clean shaven. Those affiliated with the Sikh faith are bound by their law not to shave and therefore are in direct conflict if they want to join the military. Fortunately for them the government has officially allowed men to now have beards in the military as long as it is because of religious purposes. This story got me thinking: ” Why so much beard-age in so many religions?”

Amish:

Amish Community Holds Its Annual "Mud Sale"Quite possibly the most stereotypical religious group that rocks the beard. The reason for their beard, is similar to a modern day wedding ring because the beard is a symbol of, “Sorry ladies, I’m taken.” Thats right the reason behind their beard is to ward off any potential hotties and give a very public symbol of matrimony.

Hasidic Jews:

Jewish - beardIn the Bible their is a book completely devoted to Jewish law called Leviticus. In Leviticus chapter 19 verse 27 it say, “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard” The most devote religious men of Judaism (called rabbis) understand this verse as meaning for them to not depart from their beloved facial hair.

Islam:

Muslim- beardMuslims practice their tradition of keeping a nice full beard as only a part of their full hygienical practice. The beard is heavily emphasized among most authorities in Islam and thought mandatory by most in higher positions in the faith.