Well, it is the middle of November. Thanksgiving plans and menus are being finalized, the last of the leaves (hopefully) are being raked up; and for some of you savages, the Christmas decorating is underway or even finished. Often during this time of year our thoughts turn toward those who may be less fortunate than us. Maybe those who have nowhere to go for the holidays, family or friends we have lost, or just those struggling to provide a happy holiday season for their families. These feelings of giving and compassion are one of my favorite parts of the holidays.
But there is a group whose struggles are often brought to light during this time of year, specifically during November, who are often forgotten, ignored, and ridiculed. Yes, I am talking about the men who cannot grow facial hair. No Shave November, Movember; many men enjoy taking part in these, and there are even some good causes that are supported through them. However, many men like myself have a difficult time getting through this month; through no fault of our own. We are constantly reminded of our inability to provide a natural coat for our faces as the temperature drops and the cold wind attacks our cheeks and chin. We see post after post on social media from hirsute gentlemen documenting the progress of their majestic chin curtains while we stare forlornly in the mirror; praying to the god of the lumberjacks to bless us with the gift of a manly face forest of our own.
It’s a struggle I have known since puberty. The shame of seeing the faces of your fellow male classmates blossom while yours remains baby-bottom smooth.The pain you feel, physically and emotionally, while you scrape your father’s razor over your face; slicing your skin instead of hacking through the jungle of growth that your peers are struggling with at that same moment. You tell yourself it will get better as you get older; but alas the 5 O’clock shadow that you’ve heard so much about will not come to you until days after you have cleared the sparse whiskers from your face. Occasionally you will refuse to shave in a stubborn defiance; telling yourself, “If I just give it some time it will fill in just fine.” But the looks and muffled giggles from friends, coworkers, and loved ones confirm your worst fears; you look like a grizzly bear with mange.
So as the last days of November pass us by; if you are celebrating with family, or out doing your Christmas shopping, and notice a man who is clean-shaven or sparsely bearded with his head held down in shame, please be kind. Do not stare or laugh. If your children point, or ask why that man’s beard doesn’t look like daddy’s; explain kindly to them that there are those of us in this world who have struggles and it is inappropriate to laugh and stare. We know who we are; and we know what we look like. We don’t need you to remind us.