In Praise of Beards

Leo Tolstoy
George R.R. Martin Walt Whitman

Although it may not go down in the annals of history, February 3rd, 2012, marked a momentous occasion. After 60 years of being banned, Disney Parks "cast members" aka face-to-face employees may now sport a beard.

The change in policy allows neatly trimmed beards up to a quarter inch in length which doesn't mean they'll be joining the ranks of the seven dwarfs anytime soon but it is the biggest step against facial hair oppression since employees were allowed mustaches in 2000.

There are many reasons why someone may want to have a beard. As an avid beard-wearer, my main motivation is convenience (and secondarily, it keeps me from looking like a 15 year old). Why anyone would want to take the time to shave everyday is beyond me. Rough calculations lead me to believe I have saved in excess of 12 days of my life by having a beard. I won't however claim that those 12 days worth of time were always spent fruitfully but at least they weren't spent under the tyranny of a razor.

Scientific research has also promoted the beard. A 2010 study by the Journal of Marketing Communications found that bearded men were viewed as having more expertise and trustworthiness. Beards may also make you more romantically desirable. According to a 2008 study by psychologists at Northumbria University, lightly bearded men were found to be more attractive and desirable for relationships than clean shaven men (although bearded men were also rated as more aggressive). Although explanations aren't entirely clear, there may be evolutionary factors at work.

While science has yet to prove it, I hypothesize that a beard might also enhance your writing abilities. With absolutely no concrete data on the subject, as my anecdotal substantiation, I present a list of 10 great bearded authors:

This evidence seems to also indicate that authors who write fantasy, are foreign-born, or were born more than a century ago are more likely to have a beard. Feel free to speculate on that if you wish.

Still not convinced in the power of the beard? Take a look the World Beard and Moustache Championship participants. These guys are the real deal and if their beards don't give them an advantage in life, woe to the human race.

Comments

Portlandia's latest has some of the best beards (and mustaches) I've seen in a while: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPKe9OfWs-M

As a person who wears a beard, I applaud your post. As a person who is also gay, I have to point out that many men and women still have "beards" to protect themselves from our homophobic society. Facial hair, good! Homophobia, bad!

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