Costs of Trimming: Why DU males choose to grow beards Anyway

Some will say that beards are coming back into American Culture. Whether it is for a job interview, or a first date, facial hair impacts the reputation of men–especially young adults on a college campus. At Denver University–a school emphasizing business and networking–appearance counts. With studies linking facial hair to maturity, there had to be some trend on campus. Several Students from the DU campus, as well a few students from other colleges, had a variety of perspectives to add.

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Travis Mason cleans up his beard before heading out.

In his room, DU Sophomore Travis Mason plugs in his trimmer. Travis Mason majors in International Business and spends much of his time preparing for presentations, studying, or networking. Of course, Mason still makes time for his reputation.  His movements are meticulous, but experienced. For several years, he has taken care of his beard–something he is proud of.

“I was quite pleasantly surprised that I could grow a decent beard,” said Mason.

Originally, Mason did not expect to have the ability.

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Nearby Floyd’s Barbershop on campus

Of course, not everyone has the ability. Some people do not have the time and energy to pull it off.

“I think the facial hair standards tend to be most popular only if they’re recognizable and easily maintained. There are some poor souls that cannot grow decent facial hair, or cannot grow it at all,” said Mason. It would then make sense for there to be some limit on the number of unshaven men on campus. While desirable, some styles of facial hair do not always have a place in a fast-paced world. Even with helpful guides on the web, not everyone has the time or money. However, many of these men would–if they could pull it off–wear a certain style. Travis Mason, for one, wants to pair his beard with the mainstream buzz cut–whether he is able to or not.

Perhaps popular culture plays are role in these styles too. Majoring in anthropology from Bowdoin College, on the East Coast, Preston Thomas gave his perspective.

“I would definitely love to try rocking a handlebar mustache! I have always wished that I could do that. I have this goatee style at the moment. This is usually what I fall back on. But I also really like wearing a full beard that’s trimmed evenly around my face,” said Thomas.

“I would say that I have experimented out of curiosity, but more so because I was influenced by culture. I noticed other guys were beginning to grow out their beard and wear them in different styles. I wonder what it would look like if I did the same,” said Thomas.

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The Interviewees

Travis Holian, a DU sophomore majoring in Pre-Med, is more focused on the history behind the beard.

“I think there’s just a lot of famous men from the last hundred years that are well known, admired, and had facial hair. I mean, plenty of people had facial hair before 1900, but they are less well known, you know? It’s always been a manly thing, I felt. Like the 70s cops stache, Santa’s beard, Lincoln, Roosevelt, or Einstein, or Twain. It’s iconic,” said Holian. For some students, the icons of the past play a role. Holian also has a background in theater and participates in role playing games when he has the time. However, Holian believes the trend will ebb and flow as history goes on.

“Fewer celebrities these days have facial hair. It died out with Freddie Mercury and the 90s crowd, I think,” said Holian. However, Holian plans to keep on growing out new styles when possible. For him, facial hair is about meeting new friends.

“I’ve always wanted to try a handlebar mustache or a thick lumberjack beard. It’s an easy was to show people what interests you might have based on who you emulate, ” said Holian.

However, expression through hairstyle is more complicated than having fun. Former DU Student Lior Bennett resides at Lawrence University in Michigan. Bennett majors in music and his day revolves around the performance schedule. For Bennett, hair styles say much about an individual. For example, he chooses to dye his hair rather than adapting a beard. In comparison to growing beards, hair dye seems much more limited.

“I don’t really see a rise in hair dye. I’ve only noticed gay men or men of incredible financial privilege using hair dye,” said Bennett. Clearly, facial hair is a more feasible alternative to hair dye. However, Bennett had long since said goodbye to his beard–it was not for him. It only lives on in the photo he sent to me.

“For the hair, it was more a medium of self-expression. I’m a purple person. The beard was indeed curiosity. I wanted to see if I could pull it off,” said Bennett. Clearly, growing a beard does not say whether it will last. Sometimes, college men are influenced by curiosity instead of culture. All the interviewees agree there are more clean-shaven individuals on campus.  Upon a closer look, however, these four men acknowledged and admired the look.

There is truth to this trend–at least on college campuses.

 

One Response to Costs of Trimming: Why DU males choose to grow beards Anyway

  • Hayley Posner
    Hayley Posner says:

    I really liked your piece Solomon, you did a nice job of getting varied perspectives from your interviewees. I wish you had interviewed a female or two maybe about how they feel about the beard trend but other than that I think your writing flowed nicely. The photo of the beards was a nice visual that related and communicated your ideas well. I would have liked it to be larger and better photo quality but I think it accurately shows the different shapes and styles of beards on campus.

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