A Man Discusses Beards

My pal Peter Kelly is a real cool dude. V together. V chill. V smart. Wearer of a spectacular beard.

With that in mind, I asked Peter to help me on my quest to tell every boy in the world how best to wear their face hairs – and every lady how to convince their manfriends to grow a perfectly-crafted set of whiskers – by writing a Beard Tutorial guest post. Take notes.

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I have female friends. These female friends, they say to me, “Peter, we’re attracted to men.”

To which I respond: “Why?”

To which they respond: “Moving on: We’re attracted to men, but they let us down. They don’t seem to care about their appearance, mostly, collectively.”

And I guess I then concede that yeah, though it’s a damn near given that salary-aged females give fair quantities of thought to their outward appearance, the same can’t really be said of their masculine peers. This is like one of those things, that’s understood to be a social truth. And yet, it’s not like you ever meet the theoretical guy at the bar who’s all, “Oh yeah I definitely don’t care about my appearance.” Especially not in urban areas, where our nation’s self-mythologizing tend to wind up. The tragedy is that most guys you’ll meet genuinely think they are cool. Or passable, at the very least.

Deluded people are deluded because other people are letting them be (deluded). But the whole issue puts my aforementioned female friends in a pickle: how to get your scrubby, crappy-looking dude to do his whole look better, without hurting his precious sense of coolness.

My recommendation is simple: talk around it. Like facial hair: you don’t say, “Jesus, get rid of that ridiculous neck beard immediately.” You say, “I was thinking about if you had your neck clean, and you kept the beard shorter – you’d look really handsome.” And you’re touching to demonstrate, of course. And then there’s your guy like, “Yeah I AM completely irresistible and I WILL do that thing she said.”

Technically there’s a rational element you can toss in here, if you’re feeling cocky: beards work best as a mode of framing a face – the best ones tend to end at the nexus between the trachea and jaw because that area appears covered when you face a person directly, therefore pointing your attention to the face as opposed to the weird base thing holding it up. And this is why neck beards look like a mess, just a damn mess.

Though it is telling, that your boyfriend thought a neck beard was acceptable to begin with. Your rhetorical boyfriend, in this imagined scenario. You and I, we know there’s no such thing as an acceptable chinstrap, goatee or, let’s just be real here, mustache, either. But if you’re not willing to do the mature, responsible thing and dump your boyfriend post haste, then I’d recommend taking baby steps towards change. As ugly as it is, if you meet a guy who’s had a handlebar for years, you can’t just ask him to shave it. But expanding to a beard (a well kept beard), that’s not so hard. And from there, what’s a thin beard, or even a full shave?  You’ve opened the door to change: your boy is in the water now, he has found that it’s fine.

Because here’s a secret: men, like other human beings, are really sensitive. And egotistical. So how do you get sensitive, egotistical people to change? You don’t. You get them to enhance their preexisting, well known coolness. At least, that’s what you tell them.

Follow Peter’s sage advice on Twitter here.

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