“Why do I grow beard, because am neither a woman nor a child”?
My market experience this time around got me seeing an innocent gentleman being mistaken for a thief. I overheard a desperate scream coming from the crowded market ahead of me, so I watched keenly to understand why the scream and what was actually happening.
A gentleman had snatched a ladies bag and bolted away with it. He was being chased so as to retrieve the stolen bag. Unfortunately, a nice bearded gentleman was caught and the victim whose bag was snatched asked: ‘’ is he the one who took the bag from you? She replied in a confused state: “yes he has long beard like him” and that answer landed him the first slap.
This was a slap that got the gentleman screaming: “I am not a thief, I am a worker at a fuel station nearby”. As the crowd grew bigger, someone dashed out from the heavy crowd and rescued him saying: ‘’ He is not a thief please, he is my colleague at work”. This was what saved him. My question is:, was it his unkempt beard that gave him away as a thief?
What is this new craze of beard keeping by most young men in our country today?
In every corner of our street, you spot most young men wearing long beard and it is amazing how the trend has become the order of the day. Is it Fashion, could it be religion or is it a crime alert, or are we raising unhealthy youth?
Looking back in the 70’s and 80’s, bearded men were seen to be ‘uncultured’, unkempt and of questionable character.
That notwithstanding, the trend has changed where young men of these days are proud to leave their beard untrimmed with the perception that it is the beard that makes them look men enough.
Leaving the beard to grow has become the new fashion trend in these past few years.
This has become the trend because, to alot of people it brings out the confidence in the youth which makes them feel more mature looking, responsible and could be well described as men instead of boys.
Also some medical reasons indicates that men do leave their beard unshaved to prevent bacteria from getting direct contact onto their face while there is also a high possibility that others engage in this practice to do away with the discomfort that comes with shaving, some of which can be related to cuts or bruises sustained in the act of shaving and also the itching associated with it.
Keeping up health as a people is one most important thing we cannot do without hence the health implications of keeping hairy faces according to health experts could be much more damaging than rewarding.
As the hair sprouts everywhere in the face, be it goatee, chin-strap, neck beard or the popular Van dyke can potentially harbour unpleasant bugs. According to Scientist, traces of enteric bacteria usually found in faeces are randomly found in sampled beards.
This confirms the assertion that some beards contain more poo than toilet.
Aside lice bacteria and fungi fighting for space and food in the beard, it should be noted that such infections can kill at least 700,000 people every year across the world sited by BBC in a similar article which is projected to rise to 10 million by 2050 if conscious efforts are not taken to keep up hygiene.
The beard can also develop offensive odours that could be extremely irritable if not deadly.
Much more fascinating is that,most young men have the perception that leaving an unshaved beard identifies their personality as older people and tough. They feel when people recognize them as older persons, they could influence them and those they associate with and this strangely affects positively their self confidence.
Leaving an unshaved beard could be less expensive but in order for a man to look decent and well groomed, it would be appropriate to shave your hair at least once every week to look neat and presentable, a medical doctors perspective.
Can we also attribute the female influence on our young men who leave their beard unshaped? According to a female who admired such, it makes them more handsome, romantic and attractive when they leave their facial hair untrimmed. From a lady’s perspective such bushy beards makes the young guys look much more fashionable and not ‘out of fashion.
In the corporate world, your employer can legally impose any dress and grooming standards that he wants. He can require you to shave your beard as done in our security services from the police, immigration, the Ghana Armed Forces and mostly all uniformed institutions.
In such cases the only way out for which one can be exempted is when a medical doctor advises or recommends that one keeps such long beards owing to medical reasons else one can be suspended to go home and shave before showing up in the office. This scenario does not consider religious beliefs because the service rules are binding to all despite their religious beliefs.
This piece wouldn’t be complete if I do not add that most renowned terrorists who pose a security threat to the world such as Osama Bin Laden and his popular Al- Quaeda group and others always appeared bearded. Are we nurturing signs of insecurity?
The reasoning that facial hair is unprofessional can be true but others believe that there is simply a favourable bias to clean-shaven men. In fact, some employers even have policies forbidding or limiting facial hair which might sound ridiculous.
Some employers allow their employees to leave their beard to grow with a condition that it should be well trimmed and neat at all times and others also forbid leaving facial hair such as bankers, the police and most uniformed workers.
￼ Someone may prefer to keep his beard which adds to building his personality or would term it as his ‘brand’ to portray him as unique from other men. When it comes to the security aspect, like the scenario described earlier from the market, the Police or any Security personnel may see someone with an unkempt beard as a bad person even though the person may be of good conduct. Mostly, while investigating issues, appearances are also considered in determining the questionable nature of the individual as to whether he looks like someone who can possibly engage in any criminal act or not.
Religiously, Muslim men who are mostly seen to have kept or grown their beard very long are the most experienced and those that have embarked on the journey to the holy land Mecca.
According to research, Muslims believe that allowing the beard to grow and trimming the moustache is ruled as mandatory according to the Sunnah in Sunni Islam by consensus as it is considered of the Fitra (the way man was created).
Relating to Christianity, the Holy Bible also says in Jeremiah 41:5 that “to shave one’s beard was only appropriate during the times of mourning”.
Other beliefs also have it that those who keep beards are in some sort of occultic or evil groups who use that as an identity to identify themselves and what they believe in. as the Traditionalists also insist that to keep a beard is an act of piety.
Our hair plays a very vital role and that is why God adds it to our being so that we can regulate body temperatures when it is cold as it traps more heat near the body and sometimes encourages goose bumps. Hairs on the body makes sense but must be properly managed to get the desired results.
We all come from different backgrounds ( religious groups, families and cultures ), therefore, everyone’s personality is different from the other and everyone has preferences, but it is important to note that appearances speaks first and volumes about who you really are even before you utter a word. Let your look speak positive and keep it neat always.
By Mabel Delassie Awuku
The writer is a staff of Information Services Department (ISD)