Let’s face it, it’s a hairy issue

Ever since the dawn of time, men have competed to be more masculine than each other. They brave the elements, fight, or do hard physical work, but only one way has proven to be the best measurement of manliness: facial hair.

For thousands of years, however, some men have been afraid to embrace their inner man. Since most men give in to shaving (that word makes me cringe) or just aren’t able to grow a decent beard, men have typically been shunned for having facial hair.

For instance, Peter I of Russia forced his noblemen to shave. Those willing to keep beards had to pay a tax and even wear a medal stating that “beards are a ridiculous ornament.” Alexander the Great made his soldiers shave in fear that his enemies would grab their beards in hand-to-hand combat.

miles column headDespite the brutal history of shaving, there are still a few good men out there, such as the Beard Team USA that recently triumphed at the World Beard and Moustache Championships. Senior Jimmy Strang told me he was at this competition. “It was a great fight and we just barely edged out England for the win,” he said. However, I later found out this information was false; he was never even there.

But there are some other, true stories that give me hope. In Brainerd, Minn., men are still required by law to grow a beard. All of these soldiers are fighting the good fight, sporting beards, moustaches and sometimes even both.

I am one of these brave soldiers, risking my life every day.

The lord of the beards

The ability to grow facial hair and pull it off is a skill very few have. Fortunately, I possess that skill. Since the age of 14, I’ve been growing a beard. I’ve never quite known why I wanted to grow one or why I was able to; I just grew it. When I got to high school, I looked up to some of the good soldiers that were a part of Fairmont’s staff.

As a freshman, I was aware of all of the principals with facial hair, but East Unit Principal Hank Jackoby was not one of them. As I started writing this column, however, he started to get some scruff on his face, so I decided he would be the man to talk to. “My facial hair is determined by my wife,” he said. “I usually let it grow for a couple days, then shave it off.”

Though wife-abiding, Jackoby said he and co-workers participated in a beard competition every December at his previous job in Colorado. Unfortunately, he never won that competition, but he does get scruffy every year around this time to remember those contests.

After I’d been in high school for a while and my facial hair was full and – in my opinion – devilishly good-looking, I realized that people and especially girls thought I was much older. At the age of 17, people tell me that I pass for 21 or 22. I am one of the few people I know who has that problem.

Also, in my years of “beardliness,” I have realized that females are extremely attracted to a man who can grow facial hair well. However, “well” is the key word. If a guy has patchy hair or a dirty-looking moustache, females might be repulsed by him. But well-trimmed and well-placed facial hair gives a man a more sophisticated look that the opposite sex usually finds very attractive.

After proudly rocking my beard for years and having hundreds of people call my beard a “chinstrap,” I realized that name was inaccurate. Actually, my beard is classified as a Donegal, also known as the Lincoln beard and chin-curtain. That’s probably why The Flyer depicted me as an Abraham Lincoln look-alike in an issue last year.

Firebird findings on furry features 

But after pondering my own beard for this column, I began to wonder what other people at Fairmont thought about beards.

Senior Danielle Dobeleit said that if a guy can’t grow full facial hair, it’s probably better just not to have any. “If you’re trying to grow a moustache and it comes out as a crustache or you can’t make it complete, just shave it all off,” she said. “It’s totally not worth it.”

Girls also seem to prefer some types of facial hair over others. “I don’t like moustaches,” junior Michele Post said. “I like chinstraps.”

After Post told me this, I immediately responded with the fact that my beard is actually called a Donegal, not a chinstrap, and was curious if she was aware of the difference. “I know. What you have is just too much hair,” she said.

My self-esteem being shot, I began to look for other students who were trying to pull off facial hair to cheer myself up. I found senior Alex Marcano, who was sporting a goatee.

Marcano loves having hair on his face for many reasons. “Ever since I started growing it, it’s just been good to have. I think I look good with it, and it never really gets in the way or anything,” he said.

And why else did Marcano choose this curious lifestyle with too much hair? “It’s all about the ladies. That’s the most important reason I have it. I look older and that seems to be what women want,” he said. I blew a sigh of relief … my love life had been officially un-ruined in a matter of 15 seconds, thanks to some words from Marcano.

Hollywood stars sport facial hair

Just to get a little bit more of a confidence boost, I asked some fellow students to identify the most attractive people with facial hair. The answer seems to be some of Hollywood’s brightest stars.

For instance, Dobeleit thinks Orlando Bloom is “sexiest” when he has facial hair. “When he’s scruffy, like in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ he can totally pull off a beard,” she said.

One of the bearded celebrities that senior Adam Thompson looks up to is movie star Gerard Butler. “Especially in ‘300’ – he looks so thuggin’ in that movie. I would do anything to be able to grow a beard like that,” he said.

Then I noticed that Thompson didn’t really have any facial hair at all. So I began to wonder if I was part of a large crowd that could pull off facial hair or one of the select few that had had a visit from the beard fairy.

That digression made me ask Thompson about why he wasn’t able to grow facial hair. He started to freak out angrily and looked as if he wanted to fight me. “It’s not my fault I can’t grow facial hair! It’s all blonde and you can’t really see it … . Yeah, I’m sorry I don’t have facial hair like you,” he said.

Despite the obvious compliment Thompson had just bestowed upon me, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him not having a beard. But then again, maybe it was a good thing that Thompson couldn’t and wouldn’t try to grow facial hair. “Guys that don’t have dark hair … it’s just not a good look,” Dobeleit said.

But light blond hair might not be the only danger concerning beards. “You need to look in the mirror a lot if you have facial hair because anytime food gets stuck in your beard, it’s extremely disgusting,” Jackoby said.

Jackoby’s overall outlook on beards is one of optimism and hope for the future. “They can definitely be cool. You just have to make sure it’s looking good and trimmed up. It’ll be sharp and styling,” he said.

However, Post seems to put it best when talking about how a man should keep his facial hair. “Santa’s the only one who can pull off an untrimmed beard.”