Many thanks to my long-time friend Jimmy Garner for the following post.
This week I spoke, from Hamburg, Germany, with my dear friend Calvin. He mentioned his thoughts about an article/blog for his March website edition concerning Men’s Beards.
November 2015 was National Beard Month and the evidence of this was apparent. From the man on the street, to celebrities, to News anchors, every man seemed to be sporting some sort of facial hair. Having spent some years in the “hair” business, I do have some thoughts about this subject.
I am a 63-year-old man with a sort-of-kind-of salt and pepper hair color on my face and head. Well … I should say of what hair I have left on my head. It seems that being a man of a certain age, I have hair in places I didn’t know I had. However, I have for years worn what I thought was a goatee. After being corrected more than once, and asking the Gods of Google, I found that “the two styles are often confused because of their similarities, but a goatee only covers the chin, while a Van Dyke also includes a mustache”. So, I have a Van Dyke. Who knew?
After many years in the business, I developed the opinion that the older a person becomes, the less hair they have, the younger they look. I am reminded of my first years in my salon, when I entered to see a woman speaking on our client phone, standing with her back to me, wearing a short smock. She had beautiful long blonde hair, arranged off her shoulders down to her mid-back; not to mention gorgeous long legs. However, when she turned around and I saw her face and neck, well … I was shocked. While her face had great character and she carried herself with grace and elegance, she looked just awful, accentuated by the long hair. She appeared more a caricature of her former self. I noticed the same issue with older men and long hair and/or facial hair. It seemed to be a universal generality, the less hair one had, the younger they looked. Of course there can always be the exception. If not for my partner’s preference for facial hair, I would not have any hair on my head, with the exception of eye brows.
My opinion in this was reinforced by watching the development of last years National Beard Month. There were articles aplenty in the newspapers, magazines, TV news programs, and the Internet about the pros and cons, the why and why nots of men’s facial hair over the years. Many articles and comments were quite surprising and even some a bit disgusting. However, what struck me were the visual difference in the younger men vs we older fellows.
Having an aesthetic eye for appearance, I found the older fellows, sporting their 5 o’clock shadows or full beards, usually with greater degrees of gray, looking older for their effort. The younger men looked stylish and many of them quite sexy. Of course, youth has its advantages. Even though it might be an eclectic combination of hair style and clothing, many young people can wear just about anything and get away with it. But for us older gentlemen, it is more like trying to squeeze our middle aged belly into a spandex sport outfit! It just ain’t gonna work! (I’ve always thought Spandex should come with warning labels).
The title of this missive I attribute to my partner; it is his borrowed statement. So should a man’s makeup be just that, facial hair? I think not, especially when it all starts to go gray and those character forming crow’s feet become cracking claws; anymore than I think mascara, rouge and eye liner work for men.
Do we, as men, hide behind our beards or use them as a misconstrued attempt at looking hip or younger? There are many reasons for wearing a beard. When I was planning my February trip to Hamburg, Germany, I thought I should grow my beard to ward off the cold weather experienced here; besides just about everyone has one, so why not. Just before I left So. Cal, I looked in the morning mirror and was shocked. “My God, what am I thinking”. I only saw an old man with a gray beard that looked awful. Vanity prevailed! I shaved off the beard and some years, keeping the Van Dyke.
For what it’s worth . . . .