I am no statistical genius, nor scientific researcher, just a Humanities major from The Florida State University, but this is an observation I’ve made from watching, listening, and replying to messages from other men. I run The Society of Bearded Gentlemen and have been a member on other sites that cater to the bearded man (and men who wear other forms of facial hair). There are several reasons why Beards and facial hair in general have become less popular over the years, since World War I.
One reason is that during WWI, the U.S. military banned beards because they interferred with the fit of gas masks. Alexander the Great had banned beards too way back when because it gave the enemy something to grab onto. Now hand to hand combat is nearly a thing of the past, but the gas mask issue was one cause and as these men left the military, they continued the daily ritual of scraping cold metal across their faces in a sort of blood-letting. The result of this was less and less men wore facial hair.
The next reason I’m going to blame on an entire decade; the 1960’s. As more and more men joined the ‘hippy movement’ and started to let their beards grow out and be ‘free’ of shaving, they also stopped showering, and started using drugs, and some even went as far as becoming criminals. This ‘freedom’ of men from shaving in this decade, left a bad taste in the mouth of most Americans and gave bearded men a bad rep. Nowadays, people see a man with a full beard and automatically think one of several things; 1- he’s homeless, 2- he’s a drug addict, 3- he’s a criminal of some sort. or 4- he’s a pedophile. As much as the ‘hippy movement’ of the 60’s did for ecology and Earth awareness, it did the reverse for facial hair and the men who chose to wear it.
The third reason less men wear facial hair I believe, is the Women’s Movement of the 1970’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equality for everyone; women, blacks, Gays and Lesbians, everyone. This is a big boat and we’re all in it together and if it sinks, we all go with it regardless of anything. My point with this is that with the Women’s Movement and as women gained more ground in Society in general, men became expected to be more ’emotional’ more in tune with women’s needs and desires (and less in tune with being a man). Now all these years have passed and I also see that men are being expected to be more like women. Emotional, sensitive, and smooth shaven. Nothing is wrong with the first two, but why a man can’t wear a beard and still be looked upon as a man is beyond me. Men grow beards, period. It is a natural occurence and there is nothing to be ashamed about for wearing one. The razor companies have picked up on this emotional, sensitive issue and market their products to men to please their woman. How many shaving commercials have we seen where the man’s wife comes in and rubs his baby assed smooth face after he’s shaved himself of his manhood? Too many in my opinion. These companies are making kabillions of dollars off of this belief.
Healthy benefits of wearing facial hair. There was a study done in the 1970’s by a Middle Eastern scholar in the U.S. and they reported that men who wear facial hair have a lower instance of getting throat and gum diseases and disorders. The hair helps filter what goes in our mouths and noses, besides our dinner that night. lol If facial hair didn’t have benefits to men, it wouldn’t grow there. Now of course, we’re not Cro-Magnon anymore out hunting for our daily meals, but beards still serve a purpose. They keep us healthier as shown by research and they keep us warmer in the Winter by protecting our necks and throats. They can also garner more respect by the older generation too I’ve determined.
Why our Society is so fixated on youth and trying to maintain it is beyond me. We all age, and our bodies go through changes as we do. As men get older, hair will sprout out of nearly every part of a man’s body… the nose, ears, back, etc. It is a simple fact of life; men have facial hair. Now in ancient Greek Society, young men were not allowed to wear beards until they were deemed men by what their Society had set up. Beards are a sign of men, not boys, not women, but men.
Now somewhat of a reversal by the U.S. Military as our presence in the Middle East has increased over the years. They’ve learned that the locals in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries don’t trust men without beards. In many locales, troops have been allowed to let their beards grow out to gain respect and trust from the local citizens. This has helped us a lot in seeking support and information from local populations; such things we were not getting because our troops were smooth shaven.
It’s time we (men) stop kowtowing to the razor companies and what we believe women want. We are men and for Christ’s sake, let us look like them! Let’s also drop the term ‘clean shaven’ as it makes the man who wears a beard, seem less ‘clean’ and more dirty. This is not so. A better term to use is what I’ve been using in the blog and that’s ‘smooth shaven.’ Men who wear beards are no less clean than a shorn man is and that term counters that and leads us down the wrong path.
I’ll get off of my soapbox now, but just felt it was necessary to make my point about something I feel strongly about. My site has quite a few female members, women who admit that men with beards are hot! lol So think twice next time you pick up that $12 razor or need to buy replacement blades that cost three times as much as the razor; why am I doing this?
Gary W Norman
The Society of Bearded Gentlemen