We are all familiar with facial hair but none is as conspicuous on a human face as the beard. This is the group of hair that grows on some men’s chin and on the lower cheeks of the face. Some animals also have beards like the famous bearded goat. It would seem odd that an innocent facial hair, which was shaped by evolution, would be a subject of so many attitudes, glamour and sadness too. Its cultural influence on religion and appearance is interesting if not shocking in some instances. The fact that not everyone can grow a beard helps in dividing views on this kind of hair. This is something to do with someone’s genes and not even science can make one grow a beard, or stop its growth altogether. An entire industry has emerged that claims to have products that boost beard growth even on a rather patchy chin. These products range from creams to oils and a more recent trend is a beard transplant. However, like other hairs, one can also put on a fake beard and get away with anything! The beard has been associated with stronger masculinity over the ages and it has found its way as a trendy hipster look in recent years. Celebrities and sports personalities started embracing the bearded look. To many people, it is more than just an identity. Experts are debating on whether this beard trend will end soon or last forever. Some believe that beards are here to stay and just like many classic looks, the facial hair will always be fashionable. This list will look at some of the shocking and outrageous facts about beards.
1. Women and Beards
A lot has been said on how some women prefer beards because of its masculine look. Well, now imagine the beard preferring to grow on a woman. This has the effect of giving the woman a more masculine face than a man. Over many generations, nature has presented us with this paradox. It is a rare condition in which hormonal imbalance in a woman results in hair growth similar to those of a man. Even though it is abnormal, one has to appreciate a beard on a woman’s chin. Some of these women are so proud and comfortable with their rare looks that they spot a full beard. It is strange and ironic at the same time as there are men who actually struggle to grow a full beard. No doubt they are a source of bullying and ridicule and we need to be supportive and appreciate that it is natural. Theirs is a biological condition like any other and people need to see them as human. Subjecting them to humiliation because they do not fit one’s cultural view is wrong. Against all odds, these women have overcome their fears and some are even models (Harnaam Kaur @harnaamkaur) gracing the runway.
2. Beard Germs
A beard can turn out to be a garbage bin. That growth of hair is teeming with bacteria of all sorts. In some cases, it is claimed that they can be as dirty as a toilet! Hygiene is not just limited to other parts of the body. When not given much attention, beards can easily gather all sorts of bacteria. Some of these germs are commonly found in toilets and urinals. Many men are quick to assume that a quick splash of water on the facial hair is enough to keep it germ-free. An unkempt and unwashed beard also becomes very itchy. The habit of touching one’s beard can easily transfer germs from the hand to the face.
3. Beard Ban
Even though facial hair is natural, they are an unwanted look in some cultures. No facial hair divides opinion more than the beard. While many consider it unprofessional at the workplace, some argue that preferring a clean-shaven look is bias against the beard. Indeed, some situations may require a clean-shaven face like in jobs requiring masks as is the case for firefighters. For politicians and other business professions, the unwritten rule is to spot a clean-shaven chin. In fields such as sports and entertainment, the barriers are not that tight except for a few as is the case for the New York Yankees. An extreme is when beards are loosely banned in an entire country and one is even required to get a permit to spot one! Over the years, the courts have presided over cases on beard bans or prohibitions in institutions.
4. Beard Competition
Humans are known to compete over so many things including looks. There are so many competitions involving looks such as fashion shows, bodybuilding and beauty contests. Well, the bearded community has its own competition. It attracts people from all over the world who come to showcase various beard styles. It is very heartwarming to know that a bunch of facial hair can be used to bring folks together and have a good time while at it.
5. Killer Beard
Can you picture a beard leading to a man kissing the world goodbye? It is beyond imagination but it did happen. Too much of something is poison as when Hans Steininger learned in death. He was the beloved mayor of Braunau am Inn, a town in 16th century Austria. He grew his beard to a length of 4.5 feet. If left to hang, it was so long it reached his feet and he would safely roll it into a leather pouch. On 28th September 1567, a fire broke out in the town and being a devoted public servant he was at the center of events. Just as is normal with disaster, a panic commotion ensued and while running, the mayor’s beard tripped him downwards over a flight of stairs. He broke his neck from the fall and died! His proved to be a deadly growth of facial hair. The town folks honored his long devoted public service by erecting an epitaph outside a local church. His long beard was cut from his body and delicately preserved in a museum for all to see. Tourists are attracted to the museum to view this killer growth of hair. Bearded men, avoid the stairs when visiting!
6. Abraham Lincoln Beard
During the election fever of October 1860, a young American girl aged 11 years old wrote a letter to the Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. The letter had one message: Please grow a beard. At that time, Lincoln had a clean-shaven look. The teen, Grace Bedell, was a supporter of Lincoln and was worried about his thin, clean-shaven face after seeing his photo. She shared her concern about Lincoln’s image and its effect on the outcome of the looming elections. She suggested to Lincoln that voters liked beards and that growing one would help swing votes in his favor. She pointed out that the beard might appeal to women who will, in turn, persuade their men to vote for him. This girl was the modern day political image consultant! In his written response, the lawyer did not commit to growing a beard but as they say, actions speak louder! Soon after, he started growing facial hair and by the time of his inauguration as president he had a full beard. On his way to Washington, Lincoln made a stopover at Grace’s hometown and met her. He told her that he had let the beard grow because of her suggestion. That beard later defined Abraham Lincoln’s iconic image. Who would have imagined correspondence between a presidential figure and a teenager would involve a beard?
7. Beard Hurting Business
Businesses all over the world face all kinds of competition and challenges that eat into profits. What happens when that problem comes in the form of a beard? Sale volumes drop. In recent years, the rise of the hipster beard look has made many to shy away from razors and other sharp grooming products. The trend to grow facial hair is literally trimming into the razor industry’s sales. While this pattern is not that detrimental to the industry, it just shows how beards and other facial hair are popular. In fact, other male grooming products like trimmers and beard oils are in demand as a result.
8. Beards and Religion
Many religions encourage the growth of beards with roots from ancient times. Some religions, even in the modern world, strictly restrict the shaving of beards. No main clear reason is given in religious texts for this tenet except perhaps as a relation to masculinity and piety. Scholars from these religions and sects simply argue in terms of manliness and purity of the human body. However, there are those which are clear with the no shave requirement. For Sikhs and Rastafarians, this is the case. Followers of these religions will go to great lengths to conserve their facial hair on the basis of maintaining a whole human body as created by their God. Shaving the beard or any hair is considered blasphemous. In jobs where facial hair like beards are not allowed these believers are granted permission to grow one. There have been some notable court cases to demand the right to have facial hair in places where they are banned.
9. Beard Insurance
Usually when talking about insurance what is expected are covers for health, life and business losses. That, however, is not always the case. We have all heard of celebrities insuring their body parts. In entertainment, image is everything and most have a signature unique to each individual. Body hair is part of this image and a few cases have seen celebrities take insurance policies to cover them. Facial hair and beards, in particular, have not been excluded from this bizarre business concept. A full beard has the ability to give someone a unique look but does it qualify to be insured? Well, it does, according to some people. We even have companies offering insurance policy just to make sure that a beard even Zeus will be jealous of is protected.
10. Beard Sale
We have already seen a 400-year-old beard being preserved in a museum. What about a beard being sold? This is not a joke, it did happen! This kind of facial hair has already been at the center of a business transaction in the form of insurance, or as a celebrity image. It shockingly comes back as a commodity that can be sold in the market. Famous people with staunch fans may be, just maybe, stand a chance of getting buyers for their hair. In 2013, after the Red Sox won the baseball world series, David Ortiz beard shavings were put up for auction on eBay. Strange as it may seem, a buyer emerged with a staggering price of over $10,878. The champion’s outstanding player must have left fans in a state of trance that they decided to bid for the memorabilia. It was a good piece of business as the proceeds were channeled to charity for men’s health conditions. His teammate Shane Victorino also had his trimmings sold for $3,751. Both of these shavings were accompanied by the razors used to shave them and their autographs. These were quite costly compared to what other hair has sold for. Mick Jaggers’ hair was sold for $6,000 and former USA president John F. Kennedy was sold for $1,800.