True are the faces and true are the beards, of those who speak the Truth and live the Truth. ਮੁਖ ਸਚੇ ਸਚੁ ਦਾੜੀਆ ਸਚੁ ਬੋਲਹਿ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥ Mukẖ sacẖe sacẖ ḏāṛī▫ā sacẖ bolėh sacẖ kamāhi. मुख सचे सचु दाड़ीआ सचु बोलहि सचु कमाहि ॥
No male face can truly be considered stylish this season without a smattering of hair around the jawline. But which celebrity beard is right for you?
The Hollywood beardRight this second you are a nobody in LA if you don't have a beard. At the post-Oscars bash the Governor's Ball, the beard's dominance was plain for all to see. There was Jeff Bridges flaunting his winning silver goatee, while the Hurt Locker table was home to all manner of beards. Sandra Bullock's husband, Jesse James, has one, as does Mo'Nique's husband, Sidney Hicks. James Cameron must be kicking himself – if he'd only grown some stubble at least, the academy might have been kinder to him. This particular Hollywood beard is meant to convey status and career security. It isn't very cool – it's a bit wrong even but it doesn't matter because it says that one's work counts more than a clean shave. The real-life parallel is thus: a company director can sport one, but the humble postroom boy cannot.
The off-season beardSuch is the cult status of Jon Hamm's beard that New York magazine honoured it with its very own obituary when he shaved it off in late January. Hamm's beard is rumoured to appear the split second he stops being Don Draper – he reportedly has to shave twice a day on the Mad Men set. Yes, he's that manly. Not to be outdone, the rest of the cast followed suit and grew beards between filming different seasons. The off-season beard isn't restricted to Equity members – it's there on the cheeks of the city worker who has been made redundant, and the fortysomething who is taking a sabbatical. Even a two-week summer holiday is enough to bring on an off-season beard.
The crisis beardAKA the scandal beard. You're an actor or a sportsman, you've had an affair, you go into hiding, you grow a beard. It's the male facial equivalent of the pashmina – it literally wraps your chin in a protective manner. Jude Law is the past master of this, and recently Ashley Cole's mum was rumoured to have become increasingly worried about her son's emotional state because of the beard he grew in Biarritz. It says: "I'm in pieces; too shattered mentally and physically even to lift a razor." If a friend grows a straggly beard, give him a hug and ask what's worrying him.
The charity beardIf you're committed to a cause, you have to grow a beard. The Hope for Haiti Now charity telethon underlined this unspoken decree. Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Chris Martin and of course Brad Pitt – all of them felt that they couldn't ask for a donation without sporting at least some facial hair. Beards are earnest, you see; they suggest that you are too interested in the plight of humanity to give any thought to shaving. In Pitt's case, his commitment to the straggly Ho Chi Minh model (and sometime plaiting of it) has been to the detriment of his sex-symbol status; meanwhile, speculation that the beard was the root cause of the ongoing Brangelina saga is rife. If someone you know grows one, be generous to their Just Giving website and hope the worthiness passes.
The mid-life crisis beardIn Ronan Keating's world, nothing underlines his journey from boy-band pop star to authentic thirtysomething muso better than his carefully tended beard. But a quick scan of his topless cover shoot for Attitude magazine this month suggests there is another impetus to Keating's facial-hair growth. At just 33 Keating is entering an early mid-life crisis phase. How else to explain his over buffed up body and his desire to show it off? The beard is doubtless part of this. If your partner buys a beard trimmer and starts working out, it's time to start worrying.
The testosterone beardAs exemplified by Russell Brand. The fact that the Ancient Greeks regarded a beard as a sign of virility won't be unknown to Brand, who is clearly desperate to convey his masculinity. Now that he's engaged to Katy Perry there is no way he could shave it off because it would be tantamount to saying that monogamy means less sex for him. Plus it would reveal his baby face. In civilian life, the testosterone beard can often be spotted on a man who is balding or who doesn't have much chest hair. Its purpose is clear – it says simply: "I am a red-blooded man."
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