Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Year of Gratitude - Day Two Hundred Ninety-three

Day 293 - Beards
With the improvement of my attitude on life, I have an increased sense of energy for focusing my energies on new projects.  There have been the dark days when I wanted fewer hours of the day to endure; now I feel time whizzing by, unable to keep up.
I have begun my own small effort to promote beards.  Too often, and in far too many environments, I’ve heard people say they don’t like them.  A couple years ago, I received a lead on a job at a hotel from a colleague who had worked for the hiring manager in the past.  Since I had gone back to my beard by that time, I asked him if he felt I ought to shave first.  “Are you kidding?!” he blurted out emphatically.  “Of COURSE you should shave!  Beards are so unprofessional!  I can’t believe you even asked.”
I was taken aback; I consider myself adequately sensitive to both fashion and business sense, and the thought that a beard was unprofessional had never crossed my mind.  Maybe beards aren’t “conservative” anymore, and I recognize that hotels often want to take a more conservative approach to their image, but his reaction really surprised me.  
In the two years since this conversation, I’ve heard of many companies - including both Hilton and Marriott (bastions of conservative hospitality) - now allow neatly groomed facial hair, though leaving it to the discretion of local general managers (management companies may have their own rules for franchise hotels).  I read today that even Disney - the infinitely conservative company with a grooming code so strict you could get fired for violating it - has announced it is allowing whiskers (within reason, naturally).
It used to be that all men of stature - presidents and politicians, generals, religious leaders - sported beards of all shapes and lengths - only until fashion changed its collective mind in the 1940’s.  The most recent social turn against them seems to have been in response to the “antiestablishment” movement of the 60’s and 70’s, when men grew beards in contrast to the “clean” look of the current fashion.  My feeling now is that it’s time to let that go.  It’s time to embrace the masculine.  And I’m pleased to see an increasing number of male models sporting a beard.
So with that, I’m grateful to be living in a time when I can wear a beard, and blog about it.  Let’s spread the love.

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