Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I've had some trouble in Internetworld in the last week--my Facebook account was hacked when a spyware program pulled up a duplicate screen and asked me to log in again. While I was posting about out BHJB PSA's on this blog, a glitch in LostbergSent, my other blog, shut down my laptop. A few days later, my laptop couldn't charge, so I ordered a new jack, only to discover that I was using a dud outlet.

This is all sorts of relevant, because each of these incidents can be blamed on an evil twin, the shadowy Other. Fake facebook, glitchy blog, failed outlet, digitally incompetent Lauren--if only they'd had beards, I would have had some warning.

Beard of Evil

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

James Lipton's Ponderous Beard

Sometimes, the beard is a symbol of maturity and wisdom. I can handle that, even though my three lonely chin hairs seems positively sophomoric in comparison. But a wisdom is not always paternal, and there's a bit of that in this ad series:

There are several problems with this beard. First of all, it looks like it was drawn on with a pencil. A pencil beard is intrinsically disappointing--it has the form of a beard, but none of the content. A beard must be man-made MAN-made, not a product of arts and crafts hour.
Issue two: the paternal overtones ruin any element of raw sensuality that is, okay, a crucial element of my DreamBeard. If a beard can teach a teenage girl to curb irrational behavior, I want no part of it. It's supposed to be about virility; sometimes virility is stupid, but it is in full bloom.

Kudos on handing a beard over to a woman however. Next entry: the prosthetic beard.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another standard for beards...

the necessity of tweezers

Thursday, November 5, 2009

4646 kilometer beard

Excellent timelapse http://holykaw.alltop.com/one-year-of-walking-and-beard-growth-an-aweso of a year of beard growth, accompanying a 4646 kilometer journey. Somewhere around three minutes, he hits the mange stage, and then ends up Messiah-like. What time does your favorite beard sprout?

I think I'll make a graph of his attractiveness based on time--yes, excellent. Now, to the office!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Moustache and Beard--mutually exclusive?

Last night, I attended a moustache-themed party (with stick-on versions for those of us who couldn't supply our own). My handlebar moustache was slightly larger than my upper lip, which meant that I had to eat and drink innovatively. The drinking was successful--you set the beer bottle on your lower teeth, then tip back, white-trash style. The eating, less so. I ended up combing frosting out of my moutache, and resorted to tearing up pieces of cake and tossing them in my mouth. I was living proof that stache≠class.

More importantly, the moustachioed folks take on beards: all interviewed parties agreed that a full beard, even one that incorporates a moustache, supersedes the moustache. So the four bearded men who showed up at the moustache party held themselves in theme violation--Beard #1 even considered shaving beforehand, but didn't want to give up the investment.

The beard interviewees became significantly less cooperative as the night wore on, and, in my estimation, the quality of their beards followed suit. I'm not sure if this is the result of preferred testosterone output, likelihood of alcohol consumption, or if I just chose Mr. Approachable on first blush. The highlights of my interviews (audio pending--I won't subject anyone to 11-minute clips).

AM works in retail at an outdoor gear store. He interviewed when he had the beard, but before his first day, he decided to shave, hoping to "make a good impression." "[Being clean-shaven] makes you more approachable, in some sense. If you don't know someone, and they have a big, scraggly beard, you're much less likely to approach them, I think."

Case history
He started shaving in the seventh grade, hoping for a goatee, but he quickly realized a goatee was not as good as he'd thought it would be. He had a beard throughout undergrad (in Maine, a beard-friendly region) and graduate school.

He'd go through cycles where he would not shave for four months.

"I like growing it for awhile, it's interesting to change your appearance. Everyone needs variety in their life."
His decision to shave it is generally spontaneous. Occasionally, he's shaved for a specific day--a cousin's wedding, first day of work. He did not shave for graduation.

The current beard
He's been growing it out for two months. He's set a date in March to shave it.

Further points of interest (he was on a roll)
The transition (growth) A.M. has noticed that people don't comment on his beard until it's fully-grown, whereupon he gets a ton of comments. People he would see at work everyday didn't say anything for a month and a half, and then, suddenly, "People are like, oh, look at Mr. Beard! Like they didn't see it growing." There must be a minimum length/surface area in each person's unconscious that separates beard-palcenta from the birthed-beard. Ew. That analogy was inadequate, but interesting, so I'll leave it in. And it relates nicely to

The transition (cut) "The day after you shave, it's like post-partum depression." I should not make light (or psychoanalytic darkness) of A.M.'s word choice, as he was an amiable subject, and more than a drink in. Suffice to say, I doubt the aptness of this analogy. What he meant was that his behaviors, minus his beard, are unsatisfying--he's used to stroking his chin, for example, and doing that without a beard, especially at a moment when the skin is raw and sensitive, makes him miss it even more.

The beard is a good face-warmer in the winter, but A.M.'s has a tendency to become encrusted with ice. He waits for the majority of it to melt, but he cups his hands around his face to defrost the muzzle of it.
Also on skiing: he worked at a lift on the snow mountain. Regulations stated that he could keep his current beard, as long as it was well-manicured, but that if he shaved it off, he couldn't grow it back. His supervisor would come around and tell him when it was time to trim.

Come back for news on Dude#2's "Playoff Beard."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Gay Beard

All right, I have been remiss, oh men of the world. First of all, this is my first post this month, and we are halfway through Octobeard. But I can compensate for that by outlining my recent research.

My most significant omission, as of late--"the gay beard." I hadn't even considered the heterosexual bent of my beard investigations until I hit a chapter with that title in Allan Peterkin's One Thousand Beards.

And then, this video:

The fact that I poached this link from a very out friend's page, and the repeated listing of "Glee," led me to assume that these performers are, in fact, hirsute homosexuals--a view of the original post on Joe.My.God., a blog touting its LGBT street-cred, confirms it.

I hadn't thought about what men who look at men think about facial hair. Peterkin, ever the psychiatrist/journalist, introduces the theory that gay men sporting beards are pursuing hypermasculinity, which may be a result of internalized homophobia. He also mentioned "the bear movement," a group of men who adopted the "large, hairy, strong (but also secure and gentle)" animal as an emblem.

Peterkin seems to have conducted more first-hand research into this area than I could, and he provides a short history of facial hair in homosexual exchanges from the Greek's preference for prepubescent companions, to their use as a mask of conformity in Christian Europe, to the flambouyantly smooth-face of Oscar Wilde, the wizened whiskers of Whitman, and the impact of Steve Reeves's portrayal of Hercules on the gay porn industry. In the sixties, men who take to the blade are considered sell-outs; then come the fighting drag queens in the Stonewall Bar raids, the evolution of the Leathermen, the Beards, etc. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much to say about the present-day facial hair situation in the GLBTQ community.

I tend to assume that bearded men are straight, unless they're sporting a polished goatee. So far, this guideline has served me well--the only times I've barked up the wrong, shaggy tree, it's because it was currently occupied by another woman.

But, since I'm trying to imagine life with a beard, I can't see why I couldn't have my dream beard (not a goatee) as a gay man. And I can't imagine having my own muzzle to nuzzle would undermine my affinity for bearded dudes. Imagine--our powers combined. An exponential beard!

Anyway, interviewing gay men on their perception of bearded men could be an interesting prong, but, since this is about my (female) attempt to understand the experience of a beard, I will inevitably marginalize their perspective. But I respect your excellent taste, fellow-beard/man-lovers, especially since we're not competing.

The last word goes to Wendover, who commented on the performance embedded here: "They're the perfect gay men - hot, masculine, furry, but can pull off a Glee musical number flawlessly."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

just a hair off

Wikipedia's beard page claims that William Howard Taft, a fellow Ohioan, was the last man to sport facial hair in the oval office. Unfortunately, it was a moustache.

Paul across the hall

The attorney who works across the hall, told me that he puts conditioner in his beard. When I asked why, he mumbled something about moisturizers and follicles, and also told me that a British anthropologist studied the relationship between hair growth and post-coital anticipation. Expect entries on this in the future.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beard Envy

Freud was a few feet off the mark. Men, I do not begrudge you your lower appendage--but my beard envy is crippling. It hasn't been difficult to undermine most gender norms--I can wear a tuxedo, geek out over calculus, drink straight whiskey, fear commitment, and fully intend to bring home the bacon--but my two chin hairs will never blossom into a full beard.

And so, as Freud might have predicted, this has led to a full-blown fascination/fetishization. But I am not a creature to desire in vain, nor am I inclined to appreciate something at a mere surface level. I can't physically possess my own beard, and relying on a man to keep his on-hand his would impugn upon my independence. The best and most stable way for me to appreciate a beard is to apprehend it intellectually. To this end, and also, in order to interact with as many bearded dudes as possible, I've started interviewing men about their beards.

My original plan was to ask them three questions--how long have you had that beard? How long have you had a beard? Why did you grow it?--but, careless in my enthusiasm, I began interviewing men at a house party this weekend. It was an unprofessional start: no notebook, no pen, no digital voice recorder, and absolutely no objective distance.

I started the conversation by sharing my hypothesis--that men's relationship to their facial hair is analogous to a woman's relationship to long hair on her head. They stroked their stubble and pretended to humor me; I kept them engaged with an abundance of hand-gestures and a reference to Brazilian waxes. Then someone broke out a bottle of Jameson, and the conversation took on a three-drink-in level of earnestness.

A few insights:

  • Some men don't remember the first time they shaved, while others remember it vividly. Generally, though, they seem to consider it an overanticipated ritual. Paralllel, I think, to the beginning of menstruation.
  • None of the five men I interviewed put tiny pieces of toilet paper on their face when they cut themselves. They just wash their faces. Where in pop culture did I learn about the toilet paper? My dad doesn't do that, either.
  • It is possible to shave your face with head clippers, as long as you don't mind an even layer of stubble. This prevents you from nicking yourself.
  • Some men don't grow a beard because the have hairless spots on their faces, and they would look weird with the hairy spots filled in.
  • Long hair and beards are not analogous in that the latter is associated with pubescent males, and the former is associated with young girls.
A few comments I made that made sense:
  • Body hair is an external display of gender. "Femininity" means hairlessness until the base of the skull. "Masculinity" means hair-sprouting testosterone coursing through your veins.
  • There is a hideous stage that is part of the process of growing one's hair out and growing one's beard out.
  • Women with long hair and men with beards are projecting a 1970's nostalgia.
  • The beard or the long hair can be the result of a default setting. A modicum of maintenance can disguise this fact, and make an indecisive style look deliberate.
Future considerations:
  • What role does hair maintenence play in our perception of someone's sexual attractiveness? Sexual availability?
  • Why are so many men in my social group sporting the sophomore scraggle? If it's because they're underemployed, then is there a relationship between economic trends and facial hair growth across various demographics?
  • How frequently must a man have a beard before he identifies himself as a bearded man?
In short, an excellent house party. I spoke to a couple where a long-haired woman was encouraging her boyfriend to grow out his beard. I even found a guy who used his mother's razor the first time he shaved his face. It makes sense--contours and all--but he asked "Is that weird?"

Anything is weird if you lay into for more than a minute--just try repeating a word more than twenty times (I suggest the word "girl," while we're preoccupied with gender).

I crave iron.