I recently conducted a social experiment which involved growing a full beard. I have alternated my entire adult life either clean shaven or sporting a well trimmed “Van Dyke”. The Van Dyke is a combination of both goatee and mustache and is a popular choice for men. I have observed a movement some are calling “lumbersexual”. Yes, this is actually a term used to describe a certain portion of bearded men looking to be more “manly”. Most have never swung an ax in their lives and would pale at the thought of running a chainsaw.
I know you have seen it. Everywhere you go men who would previously be clean shaven: doctors, lawyers, business professionals…have huge amounts of hair sprouting out of their face. It kind of makes you cringe a little, especially if they happen to be preparing your food. “Waiter…there appears to be a beard hair in my soup!”
“Yes, well, you obviously need a little manliness in your diet.” (said in nasal, condescending tone)
At the other end of the facial hair spectrum, in the creepy zone if you will, lies the infamous mustache. Aside from “Doogie Howser” in A Million Ways to Die in the West, the mustache is reserved for perverts, stalkers, outcasts and adult film stars (i.e. the porn stache). Doogie rocks the mustache as a wealthy facial hair product baron , or facialprenuer, and shames the movie’s hero by singing “If you’ve only got a mustache” at the big barn dance. You can hear the song here.
At different times in history the popularity of men’s facial hair has waxed and waned. Recently we have seen the shift from carefree stubble to full-blown, carefully groomed beards. ZZ Top would be proud. Drawing on absolutely no actual data, I believe that the trend was brought mainstream from the fringe by the stars of Duck Dynasty. The Robertsons have created an empire around their brand of duck calls and made being a bearded hillbilly popular.
My wife has always been partial to facial hair…even if it’s on me, occasionally. She did not care much for the full on lumbersexual, biker length, food particle retaining, course-as-a-juniper-bush beard. She said the stiff whiskers went up her nose when we kissed and left a rash on her sensitive skin. I, however, felt pretty manly. I even asked my teenage daughter if it made look tougher. She quickly answered “no”. I choose to believe she did not hear the actual question or consider her answer as teenagers generally do. I took comfort that I found my own reflection quite intimidating. I startled myself several times passing a mirror in the middle of the night. I thought a homeless drug addict had broken into our house.
People I knew stopped recognizing me, or pretended to. They would hurriedly exit the grocery aisle I entered, ignoring my booming lumberjack greeting. When conversing with me, people began focusing at a point above and behind me with a pained look on their faces. If I tried to move into their line of sight, they would panic and excuse themselves immediately. Their actions have given me a new appreciation of how I treat others. If my first reaction to a lumberjack greeting is to quickly exit the grocery aisle, I instead force myself to engage in conversation staring at a fixed point over the person’s shoulder.
Most women have a preference in their men when it comes to facial hair, clothing, and general style. It is often very different than what men themselves might think. Fortunately for me, my wife prefers her men a little dirty. However, I have had to stop taking her to the shops and construction sites where I work because she continually sexually harassed my co-workers. I had to tell her more than once that grabbing anyone “below the nail bags” could be considered sexual assault. She responded saying, “I like a little sexual salt on my beefcakes.” Yikes.
Having experienced the damaging discrimination and alienation of a man with facial hair first hand, I hope to raise awareness and funds to combat this evil. I have even created the clever acronym BAA (Beards Are Awesome), and stolen this screaming goat for the campaign mascot. I have done this in the manner of our bearded predecessors, the vikings and pirates of long ago. I am also developing a beard pomade (and juniper bush unguent) called Lumberjerk Lotion. Please send your cash contributions to me (care of BAA president, treasurer, and head beefcake-in-charge).
I hope that all of you women will celebrate the dirty man in your life. Caress his juniper bush beard and grab him below the nail bags. Your relationship recipe will benefit from a little sexual salt. If you’re really daring, play pirates tonight! Idaho doesn’t suck, beards do not suck, the term lumbersexual…pass.