What’s so weird about beards?
theguardian: by Richard Carter
Men who go for the default (bearded) option aren’t making some kind of statement; it’s those who choose to mow their faces who seem to have something to prove. What’s your problem? Afraid to grow up, boys? Ashamed of your masculinity? In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice had it right: “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.”
The world is outraged when an 18-year-old pop starlet dresses as a schoolgirl to sell a few million singles. Yet when fully grown men shave their faces for that prepubescent-schoolboy look, nobody bats an eyelid. It’s all seen as perfectly normal. Standards must be maintained.
In attempting to justify barring two Muslim boys from Mount Carmel Roman Catholic high school in Accrington on account of their beards last week, the headteacher stated: “It is a choice those boys are making. However inclusive we are, we have standards to maintain.”
Setting aside (as the headteacher himself did) any arguments for special religious dispensation, the head’s words speak volumes. Sporting a beard is seen as a choice, and making that choice somehow lowers standards.
Like all beardies, I don’t have a beard through choice. It just grew on the front of my face. I choose to have a beard in the same way that I choose to have two legs. Yes, I suppose I could elect to remove either of the offending limbs, but I’m damned if I’m going to.
The Accrington headteacher isn’t alone. Society seems to think that scraping or strimming the hair off your face is an admirable thing to do; that not doing so is odd. Paxman appears on Newsnight – after the watershed – with full, unadulterated facial hair, and Twitter erupts. The Lib Dems’ spin-doctor grows a beard, and Nick Clegg immediately orders him to cut it off. Nigel Slater sprouts some facial fuzz and braces himself for the inevitable flak. Get over it: they’re only beards.