“The male beard communicates a heroic image of independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things,” said psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini
November might have been my birthday month but somehow also marked the end of ridicule from a good friend and deskmate whom I will refer as Chris for the sake of this article. Chris is a typical mischievous, humorous and very bright classmate if you may, who effortlessly creates lighter notes from a seemingly dull class tormented by fast approaching exams. Now, Chris decided not to shave his beards the entire month of November citing to be in solidarity with the rest of the guys who believe in not shaving in this particular month. It’s known as Movember where male adults raise awareness about men’s health issues more specifically, cancer.
For the rest of us who either have no good relationship with beards or who were caught unawares, had to deal with a Mr.Chris who did everything to make us feel bad about ourselves for failing to prove that we were in oneness with men who battle prostate cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and liver cancer which are common in men. Forgive Chris for this weird imagination. My problem with him though is that he tried too hard to create an impression that he had full-grown beard look while in reality was struggling with a semi-arid, disoriented appearance. (Hoping Chris won’t read this).
That said, you’ll appreciate that beards have come of age on perception, metamorphosing from the conventional thinking to contemporary trends that use them as a fashion statement, to express one’s personality and to symbolise solidarity with victims of chronic illnesses. In the past, beards only proved that one was indeed a male adult. Nowadays, depending on how they are kept or shaved, they can enhance or totally disfigure one’s look. From a research I did at a recent time amongst friends of either gender; female respondents showed a very high correlation between how they perceive a man and how their beards appear to be.
Let’s sample a few reactions I received from ladies when posed the question;
What’s your take about men who keep beards and them that not?
Respondent A: A Man who keep well-kept beards appear to be mature, responsible and more manly but in situations where the dressing does not match his style of hair and beard cut, it implies a disconnect but the same dude in casual outlook gives a totally different implication…..Those with trimmed beards appear more presentable.
Respondent B: I believe it’s an individual’s preference however I personally prefer men with well-kept, trimmed beards.
Respondent C: I prefer a complete shave…It’s neat and brings out some kind of order in a guy’s image.
Respondent D: Some look handsome while some are deemed not grow beards at all!. I prefer a neat beard, trimmed and well cut. And he has to have a smooth face not a bearded face with pimples looking like a forest in the hills!!!
Interestingly, from my findings, ladies have stereotyped men with fully grown beards to be ‘Bad boys’, unreliable in the society, hostile and bully.
A good number of male respondents didn’t have much of a problem in fact insisting beards are a sense of male identity, and part of their personality and expression. Some said they keep them to justify their age which if not, are misjudged to be young boys. A majority of them confessed to keep well-trimmed beards by virtue of their careers which otherwise would be taken to be disorganised, arrogant and unprofessional.
Well, researchers agree that men who keep beards do so to appear dominant among other men. Moreover, they are stronger, older and more aggressive. They are also likely to have deeper voices and rated as the most attractive. In contrast though, some experts have it that beards can harbour more germs than a toilet. They have warned that beards are nothing more than a ‘bacterial sponge’, riddled with thousands of bacteria and a perfect way to pass on germs. The cuticles on the hair which are like layers of tiles on a roof, trap the germs and grease. Hair around nostrils and mouth is well-placed to harbour bacteria. Men have a habit of over-handling their beards, meaning they can spread bacteria to their mouths. If their hands are dirty, they transfer dirt from their hands on to their face and mouths.
TYPES OF BEARDS
The full-on scraggly, all-over beard belongs to a very specific man. Not many can pull off its wild ways. It epitomise boldness, super confidence and egocentric. This look is also likely to be kept by people battling depression, relationship or marriage breakups and loss of job.
The He – Goat Beard
This is kept by outgoing men who love exploring, have a soft spot for outdoor activities and are self-employed. They are also likely to be sophisticated, mischievous, non-conformers and have a sense of humour.
Cleaned Shaved Beard
This is common with men who don’t love attention, cautionary when it comes to risk, and mostly semi introverts. These type of men have a belief that all grown beards are irritating, demanding and trigger itching.
The Scruffy Chin
This type of look is close to the weird beard but a bit trimmed and well-kept. This is for men who are fashion sensitive, have time for themselves and pay attention to image.
The U – Shaped
This type of look is for men who are averse to change. It is mostly common with men above 35 years, who grew up listening to KBC radio and who unfortunately believe that it’s still trendy to have such a look in the post-Trump era. We forgive them!
Male beards have endured endless battles that somehow threaten their extinction with perceptions that men who clean shave appear more presentable. In the midst of these challenges, beards remain stubborn, unbowed and rebellious, confronting all roadblocks that threaten their legacy with a pinch of resilience. What does the future hold for them? Will men stand to erode part of their heritage by doing away with them? The jury is out.