Tim O’Brien: Week 2

TIM O’BRIEN decides the beard’s bad rep must come to an end, and that it’s time to give facial fluff the respect it deserves.

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“There are eight things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics…

…Faces without beards.”

– Gandhi (1869-1948)

Gandhi said this. For those who don’t believe me, you can check here.

That such a wise and respected man said something so complimentary about beards is a testament to their greatness. Beards are, for want of a better description, the best ever thing that has ever happened on earth ever. They represent warmth, depth, maturity, age, wisdom, sex appeal, and food storage.

Anyone who says beards indicate laziness, nature in its cruellest form, hipsters, and genocide is just wrong. At a push, it might apply to non-November moustaches, but even they are pulled off with grace and style occasionally:

There are no words

For an education on beards, consult this graphic. It’s the result of an in-depth study recently conducted by some of the world’s leading beard scientists.This reliably cited, highly intellectual (Nobel prize worthy?) Imgur link teaches us a few things. For a start, beards are the result of the most brilliant sounding chemical you’ve ever heard – dihydrotestosterone. Forget oestrogen, adamantium, or methamphetamine – I’d much rather have an excess of dihydrotestosterone pumping through me. It just sounds cool.

Another thing this profoundly scholarly and deeply stimulating piece of internet academia has taught me is that ‘traditionally’ beards were grown for warmth, intimidation, and protection, as well as being a sign of honour. Why they used the word ‘traditionally’ is beyond me – I’m still warmer than without it, intimidating, and protected from dull blows to the face. I also bought a Big Issue the other day. And wrote a nice comment on The Tab. All on the same day.

I appreciate that Alexander the Great might have come along and tried to change that, forcing soldiers to shave off their beards for ‘practical reasons’. But I’m sorry Mr “Great”, we can see through your excuses – nothing will hide the fact you’re more baby-faced than an actual baby. Understandable that you’re jealous. I’d be bitter too if my face wasn’t an insulated babe-magnet. But there’s just no need to be a dick about it.

Was one of the largest empires in history built on beard insecurity?

Joking aside, why do I feel the need to defend beards so much? Well, it’s because they have an undeserved bad reputation. 98% of the Forbes 100 richest men are beardless, reflecting a world geared against those who get attached to their facial fluff. A world where bearded men are laughed out of job interviews, not taken seriously, and cast homeless into the streets. People assume we’re lazy and dirty because, as Paxman (now a fellow beardie) puts it, if he overlooks shaving in the morning what else is he overlooking?

I’m going to coin a new term for this. I’m calling it the ‘antipogonoriarchy’. And in face of this, we are the hairy mavericks. The fuzzy rogues. The shaggy lone rangers figuratively wandering the dusty plains, looking for someone to accept us for the rugged hunks of man that we all are.

To be fair, we’ve chosen that lifestyle. We’ve chosen to live on the fringes of a clean-shaven society.

But that’s okay with us. True beards don’t care if the mainstream media thinks they are going out of fashion (see here or here). They don’t care if there was a 2013 ‘resurgence’ of facial hair – according to the same newspapers 2012 saw a resurgence of midriff-flashing and shorts suits.

The thing is, people who would wear this sort of stuff will do it regardless of what the papers tell them (in fact, isn’t self-expression the whole point of fashion?). Same with beards.


I’m going to leave you with a thought. If tomorrow every beard on earth spontaneously combusted, would you mourn the loss? Or would the world be a better place?

Before you decide, take a long, hard look at this and try to tell me it doesn’t give you warm tingling feeling on the inside.