Test-of-Sterone – I: Return Of The Beard


The male beard, just like Mayawati’s career graph, has come a long way from being a threatening eye-sore to something of national importance. Not very long ago, maintaining a beard used to be limited to people with religious compulsion and those who played guitar, mostly because parents did not give them money to buy a razor. Now, the beard has become a symbol. A symbol of prosperity, manliness, or just being a Haryanvi. Now there are expensive brands dedicated to beard-grooming products, which means a lot of men have lost the right to criticise their better halves for selling the house furniture to get their hair rebonded.

Beard has been a subject of debate since ancient times, as some cultures like Mesopotamia regarded length of beard to be a sign of sexual prowess(basically another way of saying that size matters), while in China it was considered to be shabby and a sign of poor hygiene, and it made their eyes look even smaller, but honestly because their beard density was a bitter and sparse truth. India too didn’t hold back from this debate, and Sadhus on the banks of Ganga river became famous for long beards which highlighted their wisdom, knowledge, and other traits like lack of giving a fuck about hygiene or looks because they smoked a lot of weed.

Fast forward to 20th century India, where Cinema has been the prime factor for styling the youth. After the success of the ‘Raj Kapoor thin moustache’ look of the 60s (which makes our uncles look like malnourished Charlie Chaplins in old family albums), it was time for the clean shaven era based on Rajesh Khanna look, and a stubble if you had a break-up or Muneem ji had taken your sister’s bangles and you weren’t able to get them back because unemployment is a bitch. During the 90s, villains sported beards and hence a person with beard was automatically considered unemployed or a sex-offender or wife-beater.

At no point in the history did any one try to copy Anil Kapoor’s moustache/beard/hair pattern of other remote areas due to obvious reasons. After the release of Dil Chahta Hai, it was Aamir Khan with his soul patch who made guys visit their barbers more frequently than their girlfriends or wives, till Dino Morea sported it too, because the he is the last person you want to spend money to look like.

Then came No-Shave November, a noble initiative which promotes facial hair and donation of money spent on shaving for cancer awareness. It soon became a fad and guys started spending even more on trimming and grooming because ek achhi Instagram selfie ki keemat tum kya jano, Tinder waalo! No-Shave November continues through December till January, and when it is finally Valentine’s week and you girlfriend is refusing to touch your face because of lack of visibility of any hairless patch of skin, the problem starts. You cannot let it grow because now the beard is already too curly and coarse and soon it will not be possible to differentiate your face from your crotch area, and you cannot simply shave it off because you risk going from Baahubali look to looking like pre-pubertal Justin Beiber in a matter of 10 minutes. Take my advise, keep calm and buy a Deadpool mask.

The past 5 paragraphs can be called a jealousy rant because I looked like a narcotic-addict suicide bomber when I tried to grow a beard, thanks to differential hair growth rate in different areas of the face. The fact that I cut my face at least four places every time I shave doesn’t make it easy to remain clean shaven. Also, I don’t like November that much. Cold weather makes my face feel numb and itchy.


About Ankit Sharma

Doctor and Drummer in making... Movie-buff since birth.
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