This I Believe

Wesley - Mapleton, Oregon
Entered on August 3, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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The Inalienable Right to a Bearded Face

True to the design of an adult male homo sapiens, my face is bearded. This beard is not something I wear, it is not a fashion statement—it is fundamentally me, as surely as enlarged breasts are for a woman. I believe my acceptance of this part of my own design honors the origin of my species and our existence on earth. And now I find that I must say these things publicly because the right to be a male in this sense is under siege.

I rarely saw beards as a child in the 1950’s except in photographs on my grandparent’s walls. I felt drawn to those pictures, and when I wondered why I didn’t see men with beards, I was told that beards were an old fashioned idea. But that when I grew up I could choose for myself. Somehow I knew that I would join those pioneer ancestors in this regard.

The public high school I attended considered my refusal to shave my facial hair an expellable offense, but I have not shaved since the day I graduated in 1970, giving me today what might be called an old-growth beard. For a number of years beards were common enough, and I was content to be who I am, explaining my reasons to the ones curious enough to ask, primarily children in the public school classrooms where I taught.

Recently I moved back near where I grew up, and changed careers. Suddenly I was being challenged, asked how attached I was to my beard. One company told me they had a policy against facial hair, another that it was considered a safety hazard. In interviews I was asked why I hid behind a beard. The more I’ve investigated, the more businesses and arenas I find where such thinking and policy exists. This is nothing short of gender harassment.

Unlike most other things, that the male face is designed to grow a beard actually IS self-evident. There is a reason we are made this way. I do not pretend to fathom what that reason is, nor can I shed any persuasive light on human origins. Just that to me it seems a sacrilege to alter this evident marker or symbol of the adult human male.

Nothing to me is more fundamental than to accept myself, my own body as I am designed. In my mind I see our heads as a symbolic representation of the earth; what we are willing to do to our heads, we will not hesitate to do to the earth. In respecting the design of my head, I can learn respect and appreciation for the design of the earth from whose dust I am formed.

I believe it is the basic right of every male to honor his basic design and refuse to remove his beard at any time for any reason.