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There are any number of different trends in male fashion today. Whether you rock a business casual number to the bars or put a ton of effort into looking like you didn’t put in any effort at all, there’s a lot you can do in today’s world to look good. Today, I want to focus on the face—specifically the beard. A lot of people prefer a clean cut look, which is totally fine. Others prefer the beard. Is there a right way? The way I see it, as long as you’re owning it, you can do no wrong.
Before October of this year, I wasn’t owning anything. I would be clean-cut one week, 5 O’Clock Shadow the next. I was having an identity crisis on my face, and I didn’t know what to do about it. That is, until I got lunch with my younger brother on a crisp day in September. Much to my surprise, he had grown a beard. Nothing too serious, but there was definitely some major scruff on his face.
“I’m at this weird point,” he told me. “I have to make the decision of whether I want to be a Beard Guy or a Guy With A Beard.”
That’s when I realized it. I wanted to be a Beard Guy. I’m starting to lose my hair drastically, so the only thing I can really experiment with anymore is the fur on my face. From that day forward, I put forth an effort in owning the persona of the Beard Guy.
Before we get any further, I feel like there may be some confusion about the difference between a Guy With A Beard and a Beard Guy. Let me break it down for you.
Guy With A Beard: This guy’s not committed. He’s growing out his face fuzz purely because he read an article that chicks dig beards now. To him, the beard is a fashion trend, something he can quickly get rid of if need be. This is the guy who doesn’t use menus.
Beard Guy: This is a guy who could probably throw down in a fight (not that the GWAB can’t, but with the Beard Guy, we don’t even want to test him). He might not win the fight, but he’ll get some good licks in. Beard Guy doesn’t have to have seen the outdoors, but if he has, he’s canoed through the Boundary Waters up in Minnesota for weeks at a time. He can flip an omelette in one hand and throw an axe in the other. Beard Guy is genuine. Honest. Real.
It hasn’t been easy, but much like the Whole 30, this is something I want to do for myself (and because I made a bet with my coworkers that I could grow my beard out from October until March). How do you become a Beard Guy anyway? You can’t just grow a really long beard. There’s a mentality that you have to have.
So over the last few months, I’ve been working on myself. I’ve started wearing flannel. Like, a lot of flannel. I bought beard oil—partly for hygiene, partly because, y’know, I just wanted to say that I have it. One afternoon, I just took a walk and thought about stuff. Couldn’t even tell you what I thought about. But damn, was it refreshing. Every Monday morning at work, I put on a Folk/Americana playlist that not only makes me productive, but makes me just feel good, man. All of this culminated last week when I bought a pair of boots. I live in the city. I don’t need boots. But damn, did they look cool.
Am I there yet? No. Of course not. I’m still working on my thousand-yard stare and looking for a space to start up a carpentry hobby. I’ll get there. But when 2016 ends, I’ll know that I’ve made an effort to something, even if it wasn’t my career or financial growth. And come March, when my face looks like it’s covered in Arabian pubic hair…well, let’s cross that bridge when we get to it. .