In celebration of No Shave November, The Greatest Blog Of All Time presents a series on facial hair.
Once upon a time, in a world much different from today, facial hair was regarded in a much different light.
Today, facial hair is seen as unprofessional. Dirty. Not so years ago. Years ago, it was actually respected.
If you were a man, you HAD facial hair.
Facial hair is the merit badge of a man. Does this mean that those who can’t grow facial hair aren’t as manly as those who can? Simply put: yes. Absolutely. No questions asked.
This view isn’t totally agreed with in modern times, however. The reason behind this?
The Battle For Masculinity.
Throughout history, beards have been prevalent. In ancient times, for example, clear rules were set in place. Leviticus 19:27 clearly tells men not to “mar the edges of your beard.”
St. Clement was quoted as saying “How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule.”
Some of the most fearsome warriors throughout history were known for their massive beards. Vikings and Celtic warriors especially are depicted as fierce warriors, and overall manly dudes.
William Wallace, the great Scottish hero, carried a sword that was 5 feet, 6 inches long, and he sure didn’t use it for keeping his chin clean.
This trend continued throughout history, including up until the 1800s, when Civil War soldiers started being more creative with their beard choices. A few examples:
The 1900’s, however, brought about a great deal of change in society. Industrialization meant that less and less people were making a living in the fields. Flight meant that transportation was more efficient. World Wars meant that we didn’t have to fight the same old people anymore. They were glorious times.
But something awful happened as well. The perspective of facial hair started to shift.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused this shift, but it became clear that at the turn of the century, it was more common to trim and groom than it was to let it go. Just like it was more common to smoke cigarettes at all times.
A tremendous amount of the blame can be placed on the 1960’s.
The cultural shift in the 60’s was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Inarguably, one of the most important things to come out of this decade was that the cultural perspective of facial became negative.
No longer did a massive beard mean that you were wise and should be respected. Instead, it meant that you probably spent all of your time smoking marijuana cigarettes and holding completely stupid protests.
Simply put, facial hair just isn’t respected anymore. It’s not professional. Clement wouldn’t be able to get a job in modern times. (Side note: a saint coming back from the dead probably wouldn’t need a job. He’ll likely get a reality TV show.)
But it didn’t stop with facial hair. Since the 1960’s, the role of men has been a huge question in society. Men have always been characterized as being strong. Leaders. Bold. Those were the things that were glorified about men.
Guys who were considered handsome back in the day? They also doubled as total tough guys.
Today? The attractive, fashionable male? Completely different.
There is an obvious correlation between the fact that the generations who rejected facial hair are the generations that are confused about what it means to be a man. The beard was the weapon in the Battle For Masculinity. As long as facial hair still stood, men were allowed to be men. Eventually, the only thing left to fight with was the ‘stache, and the poor guy just never stood a chance.
Older generations, when faced with adversity (you know, like a World War or a Great Depression. Simple stuff), stood up and fought to survive.
But The Battle for Masculinity was lost. Being masculine isn’t favored today. And neither is facial hair.
These days? What happens when adversity rises? War? Economic Depressions? What do “men” do?
Some sort of camping trip that attempts to pass as a protest. No fighting for a solution at all.
The point here? Facial Hair is STILL the merit badge of a man. Glorifying clean-shavenness ends up creating a generation of little boys who never grow up.
Until people recognize and respect the importance of facial hair, men will be weak.