Sunday was a sad day in my world. I said goodbye to a friend.
We had shared many nights together, enjoying craft ales and delicious food. Long walks on the beach were a staple of this union.
They kept me warm and in return I provided the best care a man could give. We even shared a beautiful lady.
But they outstayed their welcome.
Of course I am talking about my BEARD.
(Note: photo is deceiving – this is the back-combed look)
NEVER have I experienced such controversy and opinion about an innocent image choice (except the time I turned up to the airport for a lads holiday to the Greek party island Zante wearing baggy Von Dutch jeans, an NFL jersey, a fake Jacob diamond watch and bright yellow Nike cap).
Below is a snapshot of some of the comments I have received in the last few weeks:
“I think it is a really ugly look for men.”
“I preferred you without it.”
“I really don’t like it, it’s so scruffy.”
“When are you going to shave it off, you look like a terrorist.”
Most of the time I smiled awkwardly and said nothing. It was definitely stunning to see how much I was offending people.
Thankfully I am fairly good at biting my tongue and despite considering myself a sensitive soul, I know I really have skin like a Rhino, toughened over time. And not all of these comments were from people close to me.
I knew it was not strictly personal. But after pondering these words I just felt sad for a while. Sad that we feel so passionate about appearance. Sad that this judgment is “normal”. Sad that we are not focussing on what is really going on in the world. And very sad for them.
I cannot ever imagine walking into work or going to a mate’s BBQ and telling a someone their curly hair looks crap or I prefer them to wear less makeup or their choice of hair colour was hideous.
If they had bothered to ask I would have explained why I was doing it.
Originally it started as an ode to Beard Season – a health promotion charity formed by mates that decided to grow their beards all summer to remember their good friend Wes Bonny.
Wes passed away at just 26 years old after being struck by Melanoma.
I have had the pleasure of dealing with Jimmy Niggles Esquire (not his real name), the face of Beard Season and with my own passion for men’s health with Mr. Perfect, thought this was a great initiative. I planned to send a photo of the finished article to him for their Ambassador program.
By the end of October I figured I could shave it down to a moustache with impeccable timing for the men’s health behemoth Movember.
But this little blip and psychological smack in the face/beard has not made me bitter. Especially if watching The Bachelor / The Bachelorette and it’s model participants is used as a barometer for judgment of what someone should like in this world.
Granted the beard was almost at deep-sea fisherman stage and as much as my careers do not always demand “corporate” wear, I do have meetings interstate this week with new clients, so the grade 6 clipper came out to hack back the fur two weeks before I originally planned.
Even more importantly I could not bear to see my 7 month-old son’s face wince again as I scratched his face with the beard.
Even scarier as I clippered away was the thought that Finn would not recognise me. Geelong AFL player Jimmy Bartel shaved his beast of a beard recently for charity and the reaction from his baby son to the new clean-shaven man was priceless – you can watch it here.
Thankfully Finn realised quickly I was not a stranger but did try and grip hold of the facial hair as he did before and was left disappointed at not being able to cause me to yelp when tearing at chunks of the beard.
Ultimately judgement is natural. Especially if we are having a bad day or insecure or just not had our coffee yet. A friend (and Psychologist) brought this to my attention recently when he said, “Judgement is okay, but recognise when you do it and be aware and work on it”.
This led to a discussion about mindfulness, a buzz-word at the moment for sure but something I will explore further. Coincidentally a friend is going to teach an optional 30 minute course at the end of the next Mr. Perfect Meetup on meditation and mindfulness so if you are keen on an introduction to it then go to www.misterperfect.com.au/meetup for details.
All are welcome – men, women, their dogs and families. But especially beards.