During the last four weeks I have been trying, in vein, to grow a thick coat of hair on my face. ‘Trying’, I thought, would be used in the loosest sense as the whole process would simply involve me not shaving. How wrong I was.
I begun the endeavour by laughing my way through websites such as beards.org which told of the necessary commitment and attention to detail required to grow, nurture and maintain successful facial growth. By the beginning of the second week, I was struggling not to shave of the pathetic fuzz congregating around my chin, my commitment was put hard to the test.
Now I sit proud on the 28th day of my conquest, proud that I have undertaken the task at hand and got through the four weeks, although not entirely so of my unkempt stubble which barely constitutes a ‘beard’ by most peoples standards (picture above). My plan has been for the last few days to successfully complete the task then immediately shave the mild abomination off, but I’ve started to feel a little bit attached to it now, like it is something I have worked hard at and do not want to lose.
So why do I feel like this? What is it that makes a man so proud of an accomplishment that does not seem to require skill or effort of any traditional form? Pictures in the beards.org gallery show happy smiling men with a great sense of pride in their eyes, a feeling I relate to, although do not completely share in. Is it a status symbol? A demonstration of testosterone that makes a man feel strong or powerful in a group of his peers? Pellegrini wrote in his 1973 study, “…the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things.” Would people see me that way if I had a thick, full coat of hair on my face? All I know is that I would certainly feel that way, which I do not doubt would go some way to boosting my confidence in life.
It will be a very difficult decision for me tomorrow morning on the 29th day, to give in now at the probable extent of my growth, or to hang in a little longer on something that has brought me such ups and downs and disdain and pride. Whatever I choose, I implore every man (and woman, let’s be politically correct) to go on this journey, 28 days, no trimming, no shaving, no plucking, no waxing, no nothing. It is a voyage of discovery that will make you feel part of a wider community regardless of your successes and/or failures.
I also thought it appropriate to attach this stop-frame of my friend Mark after he completed his Movember challenge…