by Scott Van Zalinge, Fellow Bearded Brother
Since the beginning of mankind, men have been growing beards. They have been worn for warmth, fashion, or to convey masculinity. For centuries, the ability to grow a beard was accepted as the sign of full-grown manhood, and in many cultures, a long beard has been associated with great wisdom, strength, and social status.
Early man would have had little choice but to wear their beards, since the earliest evidence of hair removal only dates back to the Stone Age. During that time, hair was plucked from the body using two shells (like tweezers), or by use of water and a tool such as a sharpened flint, or shark tooth. Egyptian warriors, followed by Greek and Roman soldiers, would shave their beards to keep them from being grabbed in hand-to-hand combat. The modern straight razor was conceived in Sheffield, England in the 19th century, though daily shaving was not a widespread practice then. The custom of shaving every day began among American men during World War I, when soldiers were required to shave daily so that their gas masks would seal properly.
For me, I feel that having a beard does convey masculinity… and perhaps one does look wiser with a beard, like the many philosophers who’ve worn them in the past. It keeps my neck warm while out on winter hikes, intimidates bears I come across, and I think it’s just plain cool!