16 Aug 2013

Facial Hair

During my time in Australia I have noticed some remarkable moustaches and beards. I'm not even talking about those you can see during Movember. A fair number of them were attached to hipsters, who often sported real “señor mostachos,” thick and beautified with hair product.  Another common type of facial hair I've noticed is the extremely long beard often seen in older men. It reminds me of American country types and the druid in Asterix. Here, I'm told, it’s a bit more of an old hippie thing.

I never imagined there would be so many websites and blogs devoted to promote and discuss facial hair. From the “Australian beard and moustache club” and “The Society of Bearded Gentlemen” to the very funny blog http://centuryofthebeard.blogspot.com.au/, where I've learnt I've been wrong all my life about what a goatee is.

Academics have looked into facial hair with significant devotion too.  I found an extract of the interesting “Beards, an archaeological and historical overview,” by Marion Dowd (2010) on the internet. She does a pretty succinct overview of the meaning of facial hair in different cultures across the ages. Thanks to her I now know that the Latin term “Barbarian” refers to “the bearded ones” (in Spanish “Barba” still means beard.)

So marked is this fondness for beards in some 21st century men that one of the internet sites devoted to this theme, www.beards.org, has a link to what they call “success stories.” I was curious enough to click on it and find this quote: “...not everyone can grow a full beard and I feel like if you have this gift, you shouldn't let it go to waste and shave off something your body was destined to have."

This is not the only example though. Someone else said “Growing a full beard has added a different dimension to my being. I don’t feel I am the same man -- I feel I am a better man.”
Probably my favourite quote was “Full beard is a pretty tough decision... It kind of becomes a battle. You fight people's attitudes. You fight the heat in the summer. But you keep going."

Oh, yeah.