Thursday, November 19, 2009

Will you ever look at beards in the same way again?

"Sheyit, I see something that looks exactly like that every night when I take a bath."
  -- my former mother-in-law, who shall remain nameless here, when addressing a beard-wearing friend of her son's back in their Texas youth

Once was a time when I loved beards, especially on rangy-thin brunette guys. In fact, the one now worn by Johnny Depp looks most excellent because he's rangy-thin and dark......and because his beard consists of a well-shaped mustache, a trim lining of a beard around his amazing jawline, and a sexy soul patch. Combined, they make a dashing presentation.

Remembering the 60s fondly as I do, I still think that a medium-long beard with long hair looks much more balanced than medium beards with short hair. In fact, this look that I found at Playoff Beard is appealing because it hearkens back to a free-flowing time.

My ex-husband wore a mustache only, which is no doubt why the quote above was vented on a friend and not on him. After we divorced I dated one guy with a full, long beard that I found fetching because it completed his intellectual flair. But I'd hate the thing today. Later still, when I met my husband Michael, he was clean-shaven although he had worn a mustache in his past. After we married he grew back the mustache and I liked it (still do), and for about a bit less than a year he also had a full beard. I liked it at first but was anxious for it to be gone by the time he was ready to shave it off. Michael had last week off from work and he didn't shave those days. The stubble of growth is nice on him and it's exciting to see it for one or two weeks a year while he's on vacation. He worked for some years with a man who wore no mustache but had a silver beard covering only his chin, a la Abe Lincoln-style, so when he talked he looked like a billy goat. The beard-without-mustache is about the ugliest look I have seen, quite frankly.

But there is a style of beard that, while not quite as ugly as the beard-without-mustache, is infuriating me with its ubiquitous presence on so many men these days, and worn most prevalently by evangelical men it seems. Whenever I see one of these beards I think immediately of my former mother-in-law's unrestrained retort, not that I could ever forget the quote!

I couldn't stand it anymore and delved into the world of beards online for information about this particular beard style, and I found that it is called a Circle-Beard. The following explanations are from
  • circle-beards: a chin-whiskers-mustache combination; if chin-whiskers and a mustache meet, the resultant style falls in this category; if they do not meet, they do not form a circle and fall instead into the next category
  • chin-whiskers-mustache Combination: if a mustache and chin-whiskers together are considered a single style, but the two components do not meet, they fall into this category {I guess this would describe Johnny Depp's handsome beard}

The cartoon at the top of this post sports "one of the most popular beard styles" as described by

The goatee and mustache combination is one of the most popular beard styles. It is a good choice for those with good growth in the mustache and chin areas but with weak growth on the cheeks. Also known as:

  • Van Dyke
  • candado (in Spanish) or padlock
  • circle beard

The Los Angeles Times, in a report dated February 22, 2009, about the red carpet looks at the 81st Academy Awards, went into more detail about the variables under this beard style:
One of the more interesting trends among the men on the red carpet at tonight's 81st Academy Awards was the mix of upper lip/chin hair commonly described -- often incorrectly -- as a "goatee." Nominees Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Brad Pitt and Peter Gabriel were all showcasing variations of facial hair that fell short of a full beard but were more than a simple mustache. And, just now, Will Smith took to the stage as a presenter sporting similar whiskers.

Rourke's style -- a mustache paired with a separate chin beard (think Col. Sanders) -- is known generally as a "Van Dyck" (or "Van Dyke"), after 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck, though some might argue that the thin, narrow nature of Rourke's mustache and diamond-shape beard actually qualifies it as a sub-style of the Van Dyke called a "musketeer."

Such a chin beard -- sans 'stache -- would be a goatee, said to be named for its resemblance to the tuft of hair on a goat's chin.

The style worn by Brolin, Pitt, Gabriel (as well as presenter Will Smith and Sir Ben Kingsley) -- where the mustache frames the mouth and connects to the beard in a rough approximation of a circle -- is more accurately known as a "circle beard," and referred to in various corners of the beard-growing universe as a "door-knocker," "moutee," and, in Spanish, the "barba candado" (padlock beard). . .

All that, yes, but were others noticing the crop of these beards on the faces of evangelical preachers on TV while flipping through the channels, and in pictures of praise band musicians and congregation members of these churches? As a matter of fact, absolutely. There are numerous articles on the web addressing and analyzing this trend. The best one I read is Icons of the New Evangelicalism: Why All the Little Beards? Here's a portion of the discussion in the article:
The inauguration of Barack Obama brought another icon into the spotlight—the face of Rick Warren. A rising juggernaut in the evangelical scene in recent years, Warren exemplifies the new generation taking over from the old patriarchs of evangelicalism. Slowly but noticeably, it is displacing leaders from the old guard such as James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship Ministries), Pat Robertson (The 700 Club), and the late Jerry Falwell (Moral Majority). What can we learn from these surface-level changes? How is the emerging evangelicalism likely to differ from the old?

One difference stands out at first glance. Picture Warren alongside several other emerging leaders, such as Brian McLaren (bestselling theologian), Mark Driscoll (Seattle-based megachurch pastor), Doug Pagitt (author and pastor), Jay Bakker (star of One Punk Under God), or Shane Claiborne (author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical). They share a clear mark of distinction from the old guard: a patch of facial hair around their chin. As French literary critic Roland Barthes once remarked, “Among priests, it is not due to chance whether one is bearded or not.” Warren’s choice not to shave, then, suggests a pointed attempt to remake the evangelical iconography.

But what is the intended significance of this makeover? Why change the visual representation of America’s most influential religious tradition in this subtle, stubbly way? . . .

Might as well end this post with another quote, applicable ....... and maybe funnier than the first one:

"If the beard were all, goats could preach."
- Danish Proverb

Also see this.



YogaforCynics said...

I've always thought those lame little beards looked like pubic patches. As for me, I had a beard for most of the years between my 18th birthday and the incident that happened when I was 28 and somebody asked if I went to Vietnam and didn't believe me when I said I was seven when the war ended...

the watercats said...

well, I'm a beard lover :-)
I envy men sometimes, the facial hair thing would be so much fun, I would love a beard! Agreed that the unshaven lady beard effect is a bit of a worry (love the quote). I think most men look better with a beard going on though. IThere was an interesting study done (where and when i have no idea), that men who sported beards had a calming effect on annoyed public, when they were placed as complaints desk people in shops. I think they did other tests too which showed that bearded men were more trusted by women.

Have been catching up with the rest of your posts too, and what can i say really!?... just a fantastic time has been had, a whirlwind of depth and light and reflection.. :o)

Phivos Nicolaides said...

"If the beard were all, goats could preach." I like this one a lot!!!

Nancy said...

I'm with you on beards. My husband had one when we met in 1980, and it was cool and I liked it. He grew it back a few years ago and I bugged him until he shaved it off. It seemed gross to me. I didn't want to kiss hair. He has a mustache, however, and really needs to keep it. He shaved it once, and we all begged him to regrow it. Strange, isn't it, how we focus on things like that?

Darlene said...

Some beards make the man look ridiculous and others hide a less than handsome face. I guess it all depends on what is behind the beard for me to like or dislike it.

Rhiannon said...

What a hilarious and well written post on all the different kinds of beards and mustaches! I can so relate to what you are saying.

I have always found it weird that the two husbands I was married to (no not at the same time..;o)) both had mustache's "always" and grew beards from time to you I would enjoy the beard for a while but then happy to see it shaved off, but their mustaches were always there the whole time I knew them. One day my second husband (my former soulmate of 15 years) one morning as he walked out of the bathroom to drive to work and kiss me good-bye, well I took one look at him and literally screamed (in shock I suppose) as for the very first time I saw him with no mustache! I felt as if I was married to a stranger really it was so odd! So he went to work every day that week came home making comments about what people were saying about how he looked with no mustache. Over the next two weeks he began to grow his mustache back. He said he just didn't feel like himself "anymore" and how everyone else including me were saying the same thing. I always thought he looked like a much more handsome Kurt Russel with his once it looked like a full mustache again I started chasing him around the house once "again"...ha ha ha...yes it's true. Hmmm..come to think of it I used to chase him around the house when he got a fresh new haircut too! I must be strange.

Come to think of it every man I've ever had strong feelings for in the last 11 years (no not that many Lydia!...o)) has always had a mustache! Including my "new friend" now. He has a very very clean cut white mustache and small trimmed beard. He doesn't look like a goat...but he sure looks pretty distinquished and handsome compared to all the men that live around here with unkempt dirty hair and "scraggly" beards and hairy long ugly mustaches. Some look like they just don't care nor do they seem to care much about bathing much either. Well not my new friend. As a matter of fact he is one of the most clean cut men I've ever met in this whole town I live in!

You know the drawing of the man with the long hair and beard (just below Johnny Depp) sure looks a lot like Kris Kristoferson! What do you think Lydia?

Thanks for the memories.



Lydia said...

@Phivos- Yes, it's very funny. :)

@YogaforCynics- Thanks for the comment that came to mind throughout the day, each time making me laugh. That is a great story; my husband even enjoyed it at dinner.

@the watercats- Of course you like beards! You have one of those "balanced" beard/hair combos around your house (looks great on him).
That's a fascinating bit of info you told about the study...I would expect the outcome to be something along the line of Darlene's comments. Some men look better in beards. More trustworthy? Maybe they look more approachable and that relates to trustworthiness. And all women trust their teddy bears!
Thanks so much for your kind words about recent posts.

@Nancy- I hope my husband keeps his mustache too--would be a shock to see him without it now. :)
The things we focus on are strange, and often fleeting!

@Darlene- Oh, you are so matter-of-fact, thereby winning comment of the day!

@Rhi- I enjoyed your comments a lot. And in them I learned some great news...that you have a new friend, who sounds, btw, like a fine guy! Good for you (and good for him). I do know the general area where you live and I do know the typical appearance of the men there. A Portland TV station recently had a light-hearted piece about the hillbilly look on "yer min." It may have been stereotyping but . . .

That IS Kris Kristofferson! You pegged it! Go to that website and scroll down toward the end of the page, and you'll see the drawing labeled as such. (I didn't quite understand that website but I admired the artist's portraits.)

JonathanAquino said...

Some folks would kill me for this, but is the beard photo under the beard cartoon belongs to Pastor Rick Warren? That being said, may I recommend "The Purpose Driven Life." I remember reading an article on a very old Reader's Digest issue; something about a dictionary of useless information. Apparently there's a proper word for whatchamacalit, that groove that divides the mustache.

JonathanAquino said...

Still on the subject of beards, I'm curious about what you think of Kenny Rogers, or for that matter, Santa Claus

Lydia said...

@Jonathan- You got it! That is Rick Warren. My husband and I checked the book out in our library because his parents were impressed with it. Where I respect your high opinion of the book, it just wasn't my cup of tea, wasn't up my alley, didn't ring my bell.... He sure does resonate with many, many people, however!

I don't know the word for that groove! Speaking of groove, I love Santa Claus and think he's groovy. I have never been a fan of Kenny Rogers, although my mother thought he was dreamy! I did, however, love the song he did with Dolly Parton called Islands in the Stream. It really spoke to my heart back when it was popular.

Kathleen said...

Brilliant post! An essay, really, and a fine one at that. Both my sons sport beads, close shaven full ones. My hubby, who for quite some time wore the circle beard -- and is about as far from an evangelical preacher as you can get -- shaved it off last year b/c he didn't like all the white. I LOVED the white, but who am I to talk. I'm still covering my white hair, and regret it greatly.

Indigo said...

Here's an interesting tidbit. Paul was there for me when I first became deaf. I learned to read his lips quite well, which would make sense he was my partner and often my go between with other people. That was until the day he decided to shave his mustache and goatee off.

I had become so accustomed to watching his face with the movement of hair that I couldn't understand a thing he said without it.

It was the strangest thing, for almost 3 weeks after shaving everything off he had to write everything down for me, until his mustache and goatee grew back in fully. (Hugs)Indigo

bfk said...

Dear Lydia,
I think it is high time that females start spending their leisure hours discussing parts of the male anatomy. Turnabout is fair play, and you instigated it. Always the revolutionary.

Although I haven't been paying attention to these things, if the new theological class are growing facial hair to differentiate themselves from clowns like Dobson, Colson, Robertson, and Falwell, then let's hope their change in fundamentalism is more than the beards. (However, it looks like Sarah Palin's better half up there among the photos, so probably not.)

Once again I find myself learning things from you that I should probably know about (like New York). I am again humbled, and will now make an attempt to locate my mustache wax.

Lydia said...

@Kathleen- The types of beards you describe on your sons are the ones I think look best: full but close-shaven.
I like the looks of your husband's beard in your portrait photo. I'm especially heartened to learn that he is far removed from being an evangelical preacher! Perhaps he'll regrow it at your urging.
This has been my year to stop coloring my hair. I had no intention of doing so when the year began but the naturalness of this process came easily, I'd stopped coloring my hair before I realized I'd stopped coloring my hair! I have about three shades coming in, one quite dark, and I find the grays to be an interesting play with my skin tone.

Lydia said...

@Indigo- Your comments absolutely fascinated me. Thank you for sharing the kind of information and background that would be close to impossible to know without help from someone like you. It puts a whole new light on the viability of a beard I must say! :)

@bfk- I love it when you call me a revolutionary.
Yes, that is Mr. Sarah up there but still you made a good point that perhaps there is some little thing differentiating the mindset of these dudes from the goons who preceded them.
Don't go overboard with that mustache wax; you look good!



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