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To beard or not to beard

Whenever I find myself doubting the existence of God, I remind myself women are not burdened with facial hair. Praise be. It’s bad enough having to maintain the hair on our heads, legs, in our armpits and around our bits. Imagine having the whole face thing to deal with also. I realize that a bit of downy fuzz on the upper lip is normal for many ladies, and we’ve all had a ‘What the fuck is that? A WHISKER?’ moment, but by and large, women do not have hairy faces like blokes do.

If women had beards, our world would be a different place. There would be facial hair salons. We’d carry around cards reminding us of our six-week moustache maintenance appointment. There would be an aisle at the supermarket for beard beauty products and we would compliment each other on how nicely our mutton chop sideburns are growing out. There would be colouring, curling, shaping and straightening implements. We’d wear our beards differently when on holiday.

Men rarely discuss their facial hair – unless they are just home from, say, walking the Kokoda track – a colleague might remark, ‘Geez, mate, you look like an armpit with teeth.’ But that’d be it.

Most men shave off their facial hair, even though they seem to hate shaving. There’s a widely held perception that beards are as hiding something (remnants of a taco? Criminal past?) Or it’s a sign of slovenliness – ‘Your great-grandfather managed to shave in the trenches at Gallipoli, you can too.’

The way I see it, men fall into 5 categories, facial-hairily speaking.

• Mr Gillette. This fella stars his day with a shave and expects others to do the same. On weekends and holidays he might let it go (grow) a little and he might occasionally be adventurous with the sideburns (Midge Ure anyone?) But generally the baby’s bottom is the look he’s after. Particularly if blessed with a cleft chin. Example: Patrick Dempsey, Brad Pitt.

A sub category here is Mr Patchy – this gent that could not grow a luxuriant beard if he tried. Even after months of free-range growth it remains wispy and sparse. If he were marooned on an island he wouldn’t want to be rescued for fear of people laughing at his sorry effort at facial hair.

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• Mr Wildman. This man never shaves, clips or trims anything. He probably eats the outer leaves of a lettuce. He’s a wild thang and doesn’t care who knows it. Often the hair sprouting from the top of his head is long too. He will sometimes wear this in a ponytail or a plait, which is odd as it has less chance of slopping into his soup than his beard. Example: Grizzly Adams, Brad Pitt

• Mr Moderate. Not long, not short but definitely a beard. It’s hard to tell whether this gent actually wants a beard or just dislikes shaving. This beard is acceptable in the boardroom, but is also popular amongst stay-at home-dads. Example:  Richard Branson, Brad Pitt.

• Mr Partial. This man finds it hard to commit and limits himself to the goatee or a moustache. I don’t understanding this category at all. It would be like shaving just the left leg.  If you’re going to shave, why wouldn’t you go the whole hog? Especially when a man with a moustache is often a very blokey bloke who would scoff at most other forms of grooming. Example: Almost any Australian cricketer circa 1980, Brad Pitt.

Sub-category is Mr Token, as personified by Shannon Noll.

• Mr Hotfuzz. This bloke is sexy as, and he knows it. Young, snake-hipped, athletic. Can make a risotto while making love and designing furniture. No time to shave. As if by miracle, his beard grows exactly where it is meant to without George Michael style sculpting. Beware boys, this look is like Halleys Comet. Your window is brilliant but brief. Example: David Beckham, Brad Pitt.

What are your feelings on male facial hair? Love it, loathe it, envy it?

To help you decide, we’ve put together a beard gallery: