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Esquire: You write that "the history of men is written on their faces. Christopher Oldstone-Moore: The idea is that that facial hair can be seen as an index to changing ideas over time of what it means to be a man. Over time these kind of shifts are uncommon; they're big shifts that happen periodically throughout history. You talk about four distinct beard periods throughout history.

What are they? Well, you get shaving established as a norm by Alexander the Great, [which continued] in the Greek Hellenistic period. And then you have a first beard movement in the 2nd Century under Emperor Hadrian, who was the leader of the Roman world at the time, and so he grew a beard and established a new standard. Very deliberately. It was absolutely an intentional statement about himself and true manliness. And then you have, in the Middle Ages, kings and knights favoring beards, particularly in the middle of the Middle Ages. And then in the Renaissance they come back again, in the s.

That's the third beard movement. And then finally one more time in the late 19th Century that we're all familiar with. These are sort of reactionary: pushing back against the prior norm, right? Beards would be seen as a way of differentiating yourself from the previous era where shaving might've been the status quo? In part that's true. It's not that it's just reacting to shaving as such, but it's reacting to the cultural associations of shaving.

Or even more precisely, it's attempting to redefine manliness in a different way than the previous era did. One of the things I say is that shaving is actually the norm and it's preeminent throughout the history of western civilization since Alexander, so that's why it makes sense to talk about beard movements, because there are particular times in history when men have decided collectively to throw off that norm of shaving and adopt a different approach to expressing manliness.

My next effort then was to try to figure out why they did that at that particular time. Was that the first evidence we have of people shaving?

The Real Reasons Guys Grow Beards, According to Guys with Beards

Were there cavemen scraping the hair off their faces with rocks? Shaving goes back before Alexander, I'm just saying that he established it as a norm for western civilization. But earlier civilizations, notably the Egyptians, were big into shaving. All the noble Egyptians shaved not only their faces but often their heads as well. And then they wore artificial hair. Pretty much like the 18th Century, for us; that's exactly what we did. We shaved our faces and our heads and put on all this fake wiggery.

Ancient Mesopotamians, notably the Sumerians, went through many centuries of shaving. The main inspiration seems to be that the priests were the first to shave. Priestliness was associated with holiness and cleanliness and being ready to present to the gods. But as you say, shaving goes right back to the beginning of civilization, which means the beginning of historical records. So it could be that cavemen trimmed, or possibly shaved, if they had a ritual reason to do so. But we don't know. Why does facial hair figure so prominently in religion, especially the Abrahamic religions?

Why do men grow facial hair? - Greg Foot Answers - Head Squeeze

Do you have a sense of where that comes from? Well, certainly in the case of Judaism, there are actual statements, regulations in Leviticus. And there's something similar, although not in the Quran, but there's some similar kind of religious statement in the Hadith for Islam that seems to indicate what the appropriate management of facial hair is, which is a beard.

But I think the body and ritual are always very important to the discipline of the self, and orienting yourself correctly to please the divine powers. Right back to the beginning of civilization you see people thinking that the removal of hair is a kind of purification, the removal of the animal self. That's the way I see it. Very much like what Alexander was doing: trying to elevate your manhood and your personhood to a higher plane.

By the same token, allowing it to grow would be aligning yourself with the more animalistic? Yeah, but they wouldn't say animalistic; they would say natural. Exactly right. I think that's one of my bigger conclusions, is that all the four beard movements that I mentioned in some way are an attempt to reorientate manliness toward nature, or the natural. For example, it's very explicit in the first beard movement, because Hadrian was following the teachings of Stoic philosophy. The Stoics were explicitly—in fact all the philosophers—were in favor of beards as a sign of following the rule of nature.

The laws of nature. That was part of philosophy at the time. The key to wisdom really was to understand and follow the rules of nature. So Hadrian was deliberately doing that, he was thinking, "I'm going to be a wise emperor, and I'm going to be wise because I follow the rules of nature. What I'm curious about is, why shaving in the first place? People talk about beards being an active decision a man makes: "Why do you have a beard? Your point is very well taken because it precisely indicates what I was saying in that we treat shaving as the norm, as if it weren't a decision.

But of course it is a decision, as you say. But, it's so established in our culture that that's the norm that we don't think of it as a decision. But it really was Alexander the Great who did it and made the decision as it were. What he did at the time sort of established it as a higher form of manliness that men can aspire to. And for him, personally, it meant, and for the elite Greek men of the time, it meant a higher level of manliness—closer to the gods than ordinary manliness.

And this was because the gods were often depicted as being clean-shaven? Yes, exactly. It was this youthful, eternal immortality kind of idea.


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And you still hear that today in the 21st Century, or [back in the] 20th Century especially. You shave and it makes you look younger, more vital, energetic. Athletes, at least in the past, not only did they shave their faces but their body hair as well, to show their muscles, but also to make them look young. So that's part of it. But the other thing is that shaving seems to suggest that you are a refined and cultivated person who has transcended your natural animal aspect. So it ties it with sort of being a higher-level man in the sense of being civilized. Is there something to be said for having the luxury to be able to shave?

Does that suggest a sort of class distinction? Whereas someone who might be more of a physical laborer type throughout history wouldn't have had the time to spend on such a frivolous activity. Yes and no. That's an interesting thing because on the one level these shaving and beard trends transcend class, they do not show strong class differentiation. For example, in the 19th Century, men of all classes, rural and urban, were adopting beards. Or not, when the 20th Century came. So it's a gender thing rather than a class thing.

On the other hand, it's appropriate to say in terms of differentiation, because of course wealthy men can do a better job of it, so they can always look clean and freshly shaved, whereas working men are more typically going to have scruff, because they can't quite maintain that shave quite as well. Also [the wealthy] can get better haircuts and that kind of thing, so they can always look a little better and differentiate their class that way.

How would you characterize the current beard moment? I have a big beard myself. It seems to me there's three stereotypical reactions to people having a beard now: You're either a hipster, a redneck, or a "terrorist. Do those three options ring true to your sense? Then there are religious beards too as you mentioned; throw that into the pile. I think we're at a moment, once again like in other beard movements, where men are rethinking what it is to be a man, and how to represent oneself.

And of course our society is so much more divided than societies in the past. We don't have a single cultural authority like a king or emperor. There's no body or group that defines masculinity for everybody. What that means is there are a wide range of different approaches. But I do think, like other beard movements, we are rethinking masculinity. And gender in general is kind of up for grabs, being redefined in lots of ways. I think it makes sense that men would at least consider the possibility of facial hair as a way to think about the nature of manhood.

It is a reorientation, again, toward the natural. At least as a starting point for the whole idea of what is a man. Especially when so many people are questioning that. Basilios Bessarion 's beard contributed to his defeat in the papal conclave of Thomas Bramwell Welch was a Methodist minister. Iconography and art dating from the 4th century onward almost always portray Jesus with a beard. However, Western European art generally depicts John the Apostle as clean-shaven, to emphasize his relative youth. Eight of the figures portrayed in the painting entitled The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci are bearded.

Mainstream Christianity holds Isaiah Chapter Verse 6 as a prophecy of Christ's crucifixion , and as such, as a description of Christ having his beard plucked by his tormentors. In Eastern Christianity , members of the priesthood and monastics often wear beards, and religious authorities at times have recommended or required beards for all male believers.

Amish and Hutterite men shave until they marry, then grow a beard and are never thereafter without one, although it is a particular form of a beard see Visual markers of marital status. Many Syrian Christians from Kerala in India wore [ when? At various times in its history and depending on various circumstances, the Catholic Church in the West permitted or prohibited facial hair barbae nutritio — literally meaning "nourishing a beard" for clergy. The phrase "nourishing a beard" was interpreted in different ways, either as imposing a clean-shaven face or only excluding a too-lengthy beard. In relatively modern times, the first pope to wear a beard was Pope Julius II , who in —12 did so for a while as a sign of mourning for the loss of the city of Bologna.

Since then, no pope has worn a beard. Most Latin-rite clergy are now clean-shaven, but Capuchins and some others are bearded. Present canon law is silent on the matter. Although most Protestant Christians regard the beard as a matter of choice, some have taken the lead in fashion by openly encouraging its growth as "a habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial" C.

Since the mid-twentieth century, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints LDS Church has encouraged men to be clean-shaven, [44] particularly those that serve in ecclesiastical leadership positions. Since David O. The church maintains no formal policy on facial hair for its general membership. BYU students led a campaign to loosen the beard restrictions in , [56] [57] [58] [59] but it had the opposite effect at Church Educational System schools: some who had previously been granted beard exceptions were found no longer to qualify, and for a brief period the LDS Business College required students with a registered exception to wear a "beard badge", which was likened to a " badge of shame ".

Some students also join in with shaming their fellow beard-wearing students, even those with registered exceptions. The ancient Hindu texts regarding beards depends on the Deva and other teachings, varying according to whom the devotee worships or follows. Many Sadhus , Yogis , or Yoga practitioners keep beards, and represent all situations of life. Shaivite ascetics generally have beards, as they are not permitted to own anything, which would include a razor. The beard is also a sign of a nomadic and ascetic lifestyle.

Why Do Men Grow Beards? The Answer May Surprise You

Allowing the beard Lihyah in Arabic to grow and trimming the moustache is ruled as mandatory according to the Sunnah in Sunni Islam by consensus [61] and is considered of the fitra i. Ibn Hazm reported that there was scholarly consensus that it is an obligation to trim the moustache and let the beard grow. He quoted a number of hadiths as evidence, including the hadith of Ibn 'Umar quoted above, and the hadith of Zayd ibn Arqam in which Mohammed said: "Whoever does not remove any of his moustache is not one of us.

The extent of the beard is from the cheekbones, level with the channel of the ears, until the bottom of the face. It includes the hair that grows on the cheeks. Hair on the neck is not considered a part of the beard and can be removed. In the Islamic tradition, God commanded Abraham to keep his beard, shorten his moustache, clip his nails , shave the hair around his genitals , and epilate his armpit hair. According to the Twelver Shia scholars, as per Sunnah , the length of a beard should not exceed the width of a fist.

Trimming of facial hair is allowed; however, shaving it is haram religiously forbidden. The Bible states in Leviticus that "You shall not round off the corners of your heads nor mar the corners of your beard. Because scissors have two blades, some opinions in halakha Jewish law permit their use to trim the beard, as the cutting action comes from contact of the two blades and not the blade against the skin. For this reason, some poskim Jewish legal deciders rule that Orthodox Jews may use electric razors to remain clean-shaven, as such shavers cut by trapping the hair between the blades and the metal grating, halakhically a scissor-like action.

Other poskim like Zokon Yisrael KiHilchso, [68] maintain that electric shavers constitute a razor-like action and consequently prohibit their use. The Zohar , one of the primary sources of Kabbalah Jewish mysticism , attributes holiness to the beard, specifying that hairs of the beard symbolize channels of subconscious holy energy that flows from above to the human soul.

Therefore, most Hasidic Jews, for whom Kabbalah plays an important role in their religious practice, traditionally do not remove or even trim their beards. Traditional Jews refrain from shaving, trimming the beard, and haircuts during certain times of the year like Passover , Sukkot , the Counting of the Omer and the Three Weeks. Cutting the hair is also restricted during the day mourning period after the death of a close relative, known in Hebrew as the Shloshim thirty. Guru Gobind Singh , the tenth Sikh Guru, commanded the Sikhs to maintain unshorn hair, recognizing it as a necessary adornment of the body by Almighty God as well as a mandatory Article of Faith.

Sikhs consider the beard to be part of the nobility and dignity of their manhood. Sikhs also refrain from cutting their hair and beards out of respect for the God-given form. Kesh , uncut hair, is one of the Five Ks , five compulsory articles of faith for a baptized Sikh. As such, a Sikh man is easily identified by his turban and uncut hair and beard.

Male Rastafarians wear beards in conformity with injunctions given in the Bible, such as Leviticus , which reads "They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh. In Greco-Roman antiquity the beard was "seen as the defining characteristic of the philosopher; philosophers had to have beards, and anyone with a beard was assumed to be a philosopher. The popularity of shaving did not rise in the region until the example of Alexander the Great near the end of the fourth century BCE.

The popularity of shaving did not spread to Rome until the end of the third century BCE following its acceptance by Scipio Africanus. In Rome shaving's popularity grew to the point that for a respectable Roman citizen it was seen almost as compulsory. The importance of the beard to Roman philosophers is best seen by the extreme value that the Stoic philosopher Epictetus placed on it. As historian John Sellars puts it, Epictetus "affirmed the philosopher's beard as something almost sacred If someone continues to shave in order to look the part of a respectable Roman citizen, it is clear that they have not yet embraced philosophy conceived as a way of life and have not yet escaped the social customs of the majority Epictetus saw his beard as an integral part of his identity and held that he would rather be executed than submit to any force demanding he remove it.

In his Discourses 1. If I am a philosopher, I answer, I will not shave it off. If it will do you any good, behead me. This was not theoretical in the age of Epictetus, for the Emperor Domitian had the hair and beard forcibly shaven off of the philosopher Apollonius of Tyana "as punishment for anti-State activities. Well before his declaration of "death before shaving" Epictetus had been forced to flee Rome when Domitian banished all philosophers from Italy under threat of execution. Roman philosophers sported different styles of beards to distinguish which school they belonged to.

Cynics with long dirty beards to indicate their "strict indifference to all external goods and social customs"; [70] Stoics occasionally trimming and washing their beards in accordance with their view "that it is acceptable to prefer certain external goods so long as they are never valued above virtue"; [70] Peripatetics took great care of their beards believing in accordance with Aristotle that "external goods and social status were necessary for the good life together with virtue". Professional airline pilots are required to be clean shaven to facilitate a tight seal with auxiliary oxygen masks.

Isezaki city in Gunma prefecture, Japan, decided to ban beards for male municipal employees on May 19, The U. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has found requiring shaving to be discriminatory. The International Boxing Association prohibits the wearing of beards by amateur boxers , although the Amateur Boxing Association of England allows exceptions for Sikh men, on condition that the beard be covered with a fine net. The Cincinnati Reds had a longstanding enforced policy where all players had to be completely clean shaven no beards, long sideburns or moustaches.

However, this policy was abolished following the sale of the team by Marge Schott in Under owner George Steinbrenner , the New York Yankees baseball team had a strict dress code that prohibited long hair and facial hair below the lip; the regulation was continued under Hank and Hal Steinbrenner when control of the Yankees was transferred to them after the season.

Fredi Gonzalez , who replaced Girardi as the Marlins' manager, dropped that policy when he took over after the season. The Playoff beard is a tradition common with teams in the National Hockey League and now in other leagues where players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season until the playoffs are over for their team. In , some members of the Tyrone Gaelic football team vowed not to shave until the end of the season.

Why do men grow beards but not women? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

They went on to win the All-Ireland football championship , some of them sporting impressive beards by that stage. Kleeberger was known, alongside teammates Jebb Sinclair and Hubert Buydens as one of "the beardoes". Fans in the stands could often be seen wearing fake beards and "fear the beard" became a popular expression during the team's run in the competition.

Kleeberger, who became one of Canada's star players in the tournament, later used the publicity surrounding his beard to raise awareness for two causes; Christchurch earthquake relief efforts and prostate cancer. As part of this fundraising, his beard was shaved off by television personality Rick Mercer and aired on national television. MLB Fan Cave presented a "Journey Inside Brian Wilson's Beard", which was an interactive screenshot of Wilson's beard, where one can click on different sections to see various fictional activities performed by small "residents" of the beard.

The hosts on sports shows sometimes wear replica beards, and the Giants gave them away to fans as a promo. The Boston Red Sox featured at least 12 players [78] with varying degrees of facial hair, ranging from the closely trimmed beard of slugger David Ortiz to the long shaggy looks of Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli.

Beards have also become a source of competition between athletes. Depending on the country and period, facial hair was either prohibited in the army or an integral part of the uniform. Beard hair is most commonly removed by shaving or by trimming with the use of a beard trimmer. If only the area above the upper lip is left unshaven, the resulting facial hairstyle is known as a moustache; if hair is left only on the chin, the style is a goatee.

For appearance and cleanliness, some people maintain their beards by exfoliating the skin, using soap or shampoo and sometimes conditioner, and afterward applying oils for softness. The term "beard" is also used for a collection of stiff, hairlike feathers on the centre of the breast of turkeys. Normally, the turkey's beard remains flat and may be hidden under other feathers, but when the bird is displaying, the beard becomes erect and protrudes several centimetres from the breast. Many goats possess a beard.

The male sometimes urinates on his own beard as a marking behaviour during rutting. Several animals are termed "bearded" as part of their common name. Sometimes a beard of hair on the chin or face is prominent but for some others, "beard" may refer to a pattern or colouring of the pelage reminiscent of a beard. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For other uses, see Beard disambiguation. A Hindu Sadhu with a full beard and moustache from Varanasi, India.


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    April Learn how and when to remove this template message. The tears of Saint Peter , by El Greco. See also: Islamic hygienical jurisprudence. Main article: Shaving in Judaism. Main article: Facial hair in the military. August Learn how and when to remove this template message.

    Main article: List of facial hairstyles. Dermatol Ther.

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    Retrieved on Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Greenwood Publishing Group. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 April In Birchwood, Matthew; Dimmock, Matthew eds. Cultural Encounters Between East and West, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press. Retrieved One of the arguments that was used against the election of Bessarion as Pope was that he still had a beard, even though he had converted to Catholicism, and insisted on wearing his Greek habit, which raised doubts on the sincerity of his conversion.

    In McGuckin, John Anthony ed. Ritual prohibitions typical for all sections of the Old Believers include shaving beards for men and smoking tobacco. Edited by R. Huygens, with an introduction on beards in the Middle Ages by Giles Constable. ZENIT news agency. Retrieved 13 January December New Era. LDS Church. Deseret News. New Era : 48— June Salt Lake City: Signature Books. Islam QA.