By CHADWICK CARTER – STAFF WRITER
On Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. It promises to be a frigid six weeks.
Fortunately for the many men on campus, nature has provided protection from the cold in the form of facial hair.
“It feels a lot warmer with a beard,” sophomore Hari Periši
, who until recently sported a glorious beard, said. “I actually miss my beard a lot right now because I go outside and get a blast of cold air every time. When I had my beard it just didn’t feel cold, ever. It’s like a scarf for your face.”
Just like head hair, a beard can both trap in heat and shield against the wind. During the harsh winter months, having a little bit of scruff can be the difference between cold, wind-burned cheeks and delightfully bearded bliss.
“It feels far warmer. The sides of my beard are not as defined as my goatee, so I have a bit more warmth around my mouth,” sophomore Austin Ryan said. “But sometimes there is ice on my beard, so that makes it colder.”
Indeed, there is one caveat to cultivating a full beard — if not dried completely before entering the winter wasteland, the beard may freeze.
It may be too late to start a beard just for the winter, as beards can take months to reach their full potential. However, the benefits of beardedness extend beyond insulation. A beard can entirely alter the appearance.
“Without a beard,” Periši
said, “I look like my four-year-old brother. With a beard, a sexy, modern-day Abraham Lincoln.”
can compare being shaven to being bearded, which is a comparison that John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology and Chair of Anthropology/Sociology Program Dr. Beau Weston cannot do. Since adolescence, “I have never been without a beard. I have never shaved,” Weston said.
Dr. Weston’s beard has been growing since the first fuzz appeared on his face.
“I looked really awful at 13 and 14. ‘Mangy’ would be the word. I didn’t care what people thought, and had a girlfriend anyway, so I was victorious,” Dr. Weston said.
His beard is far from patchy now, and he maintains that he will not shave it.
“People have often asked me, ‘Why don’t you shave?’ And it always seemed more trouble than it’s worth. There isn’t really a downside to a beard,” Dr. Weston said.
In any case, both Dr. Weston and his wife prefer him bearded.
“My wife, who has never seen my chin, doesn’t really want to,” Dr. Weston said.
The only downside, it seems, is waiting for a beard to grow in. Every beard is different, and the process of growth deviates from person to person. To illustrate this, here are the steps (in their words) of growth for Periši
, Ryan, and Dr. Weston’s beards, along with the word they felt best describes their beard:
The Life Cycle of Hari Periši
2. Five o’clock shadow/stubble stage
3. Prickly stubble stage
4. Uneven growth stage
5. Really kind of weird, hair everywhere stage
6. Trimming stage
7. Good-looking stage
The Life Cycle of Austin Ryan’s Beard:
2. Defined blond stubble (3-5 days)
3. Defined goatee, beginning of chin strap (2 weeks)
4. Definition of sides (1 month)
The Life Cycle of Dr. Beau Weston’s Beard:
“Salt ‘n pepper”
1. Seventh-grade patchiness
2. Increased filling in through adolescence
3. Full beard for all adulthood, regular trimming
A common point in the life of a beard is the trimming stage. Unless a lengthy, Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway type beard is desired, beards require some maintenance.
“Usually I just use small scissors around the sides to cut off the longer hairs. If it gets too unruly I shave it off,” Ryan said.
Besides trimming, a beard may also require stylistic upkeep.
“I used a brush and a comb to keep it contained. When I would take a shower I would give it extra attention. I actually had a small little towel for just my beard,” Periši
Dr. Weston, however, uses regular scratching to keep his beard in check.
“If I keep it short I don’t really need to groom it. It doesn’t go anywhere,” Dr. Weston.
Combed, trimmed, or wild, beards serve many purposes for the modern man, including one fascinating comparison for Ryan.
“I get called a ‘Young Kris Kringle’ because of the redness of my beard and my love of children,” Ryan said.
A beard is a truly multi-functional facial feature: keeping warm, changing appearance, even defining identity.
Yet, as both Periši
and Ryan noted, beards are not for everyone.
“Beards are for those who want to challenge themselves and those who want to go into academia or sports, baseball for example,” Ryan said.
Dr. Weston, himself in academia, agrees.
“Professor is one of the jobs where you can get away with a beard the longest,” Dr. Weston. For those who choose the beard life, though, a beard is a truly special thing. For Periši
, growing a beard was “the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Men of Centre College, it can be the best decision of your life as well.