|Karl - 021314|
In my last post, I revisited an old post from my old blog about comments I received concerning a model I photographed and her pubic and underarm hair. Today, I want to share a bit about my own journey with hair grooming and how society views it and the tough challenges I have had against it.
During my late teens until I started a new job that made it difficult to have, I had a mustache. I grew it in college so I wouldn't be carded when hitting the bars. I kept it for twelve years out of the habit and routine of having it.
In 1999, I was thirty and had just started a job in the manufacturing area of a biotech pharmaceutical. They had no rules against facial hair, but because of having one I had to wear a beard/mustache cover while on the near sterile manufacturing floor for up to 10 hours at a time. I soon decided to shave it off for comfort. My wife had not seen me without a mustache and it took her a bit of time to stop staring at my top lip.
For the next 14 years, I happily remained clean shaven (except for a brief experiment with a goatee). Last fall, we had a Halloween party at work and the theme was TV characters. With my love for the show, Breaking Bad, I grew a beard and mustache, then trimmed it to match Walter White's menacing facial hair. While growing it, I started to get some compliments from a number of women and a few men. After the party, I promptly shaved it all off, with instant regret. My unique face went back to being unremarkable in anyway.
In December, I started growing it back and am happy I did. Not everyone shares in those feelings. Some friends and family tease me (which I do not mind and often laugh with). One relative said if her dog saw me, she would give me the "DANGER STRANGER" bark. Other friends teased that I look like Grizzly Adams. One gay friend said that I became an instant hot straight bear. Rawr!.
Not all of the receptions of my beard have been so warm. My dad worries that I don't look professional anymore. One manager at work (not in my chain of command) asked, "So, are you really thinking of keeping that?"
All of these slights and hardships are a joke, really. I haven't gone through a the tiniest fraction of what others have had to endure due to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and many other differences that can not be accepted by other. My beard is truly a choice, my age isn't. My gay friends didn't have a choice, nor all of us that are growing older every moment we breath. So everyone, quit hurting others just because they are older or younger than what you consider the norms, love someone that you can't, or are not of your gender, faith, or race.
PS - I am keeping my Hemingway beard.
PPS - In high school, I went as a "beard" to a spring prom with a friend who is lesbian. She and I went out of friendship and wanting to ride in a really cool limo. It is kind of sad I didn't have a romantic date, but it was tragic she couldn't be her true self and go with her girlfriend.