I have ‘worn’ a beard my whole adult life apart from one time in the 1980s when I went to India on my own and had the courage to shave it off and see myself ‘naked’. My suspicions were confirmed and I grew it back by the time I got home. The thing is, I (believe I) have a week chin and originally it was a bid to look more of a man, more macho. I have hidden behind my beard ever since; for periods growing it full and bushy, and after some time, usually when life felt good, I would ‘come out’ (a relative term!) by reducing the bush to a neat goatee chin appendage.
My partners – there have been several – tended to put up with the bristles around my mouth (I have to admit the hairs are more like scratchy pubic hair than head hair) on the condition that kissing was kept to a minimum apart from the occasional moment of animal passion; and as for my looks, I got the impression that they tended to agree with my preference for covering up my chin – what there is of it.
This week Sofia commented on the fact that I had let my present goatee get rather long – she’s not over keen on the scratchy stuff. We started to talk about my beard, my entrenchment in my needs for one (the vanity and my psychological need). She thinks it unbalances my face and detracts from my main asset, which she describes as my large, smiling, friendly eyes. So I immediately went to the bathroom mirror and experimented with pruning back.
I haven’t yet had the courage to take it all off, but I am thinking about it. It feels like a huge thing to display my whole face to the world. I am irrationally scared at the thought and yet I am much less concerned about how I look or what people think, than I used to be. But I am embarrassed to admit that my vanity is still that big.
Maybe IF I do shave it all off, it would be really cathartic and maybe it could be a part of showing myself more fully to the world in lots of other ways – becoming more authentically who I really am. I hope that I am communicating my sense of humour about this as well as my terror. Its a dilemma I will play with for a while and a part of me is saying ‘what’s the big deal, you can always grow the friggin’ thing back again’. True, but its what it symbolises somehow, after all these years.