Everyone can be bullied, a lesson from a moustache
I have terrible facial hair genetics, nice goatee, thick moustache, but the rest grows in patchy, that’s why I had to wait until nearing 40 to give growing a beard a shot, until now, the longest i went without a shave was maybe a week, let’s forget that one Movember back in 08. My genes for my beard were so bad, the first time I started to grow it out, there were already white hairs!!! But lets focus on the bright side, I have a mostly thick head of hair, those bright stage lights for bodybuilding may disagree.. no greys yet, fingers crossed, I’ve managed 3 kids and a business and multiple degrees and didn't turn grey? I manage stress better than most. I credit this to a traumatic childhood, I won’t get into details, but I learned at a very young age, you can only focus on the things you can change, it’s wasted energy to focus on the things you can’t. This led me to my entire youth of being bullied and I mean, really bullied. From kindergarten all the way to grade 7, kids knew I was different, who names their kid “Dino”, is it short for something? Nice hair, nice glasses, you’re adopted, your parents are dead, you’re too nice, you’re a nerd. It wasn’t until I beat up a bully in grade 7 that I never had to deal with a bully again, or so I thought…
Women, Girls, I see this all the time, but I really don’t experience the same way, bullying comes in many subtle forms, and you often just accept it, let it roll off your back like water off the back of a duck. Kudos, to you, but i realize now, if you’re living in the moment, an active participant, you’re feelings get hurt, one tiny jab at a time. I’m certain it adds up, and it can lead to depression, anxiety, self doubt, self esteen issues and negative self talk. Let’s be real here a second though, not only am I male, white, English speaking, from a middle class family, I’ve also been very lucky, and I’ve capitalized on my luck, through hard work and consistency, I’ve failed many times, but I’m happy, most people, in my experience, aren’t. So where am I going with this? Well it took a beard to make me realize, words and subtle actions without thought, can add up, and really make you feel shitty.
Week 1 or so, nothing atypical, no weird looks, I feel pretty good, my stubble usually looks ok so I tend to rock a 5 oclock shadow most days. It’s just more convenient to use a hair trimmer as I rip out the door, than to lather up and shave daily or even weekly. 2 weeks in my moustache, over powers the rest of my face, I can’t look at myself with a “What the fuck are you doing?” muttered under my breath, but this time around, I say, “fuck it! I’m my own boss, running multiple companies, an expansion at the gym, taking classes, writing course material, promoting 2 bodybuilding shows, training 6–8 clients per day, coaching online clients, writing blogs, not to mention I do have 3 kids and a tolerant wife… why not add homeless look to the list? That’s another jab at myself, 15 years as a personal trainer has helped me add self deprecating humour to my list of skills, it usually puts clients at ease and makes them more comfortable when they do something utterly stupid, which happens daily.
So week 3 hits, and I get the “Wow you look different”, the wife touching the face more, the kids pulling on the hairs, generally nice compliments, well until I go into public. The first time it hit me, was the “OH! a beard, never seen you with a beard before” ok ok cool, I can handle that, later that day, “What’s on your face?” …hey captain obvious, it’s hair, but i realize most people don’t think before they speak. Later that evening, more self depracting humor about my facial hair to put others at ease, but im seriously contemplating shaving. By now I haven’t posted any stories of myself talking on my Instagram for a couple weeks, some people may actually think I’m dead, as I usually can’t keep my mouth shut.
Oye…week 4, I’m actually digging it, I now look about 25 with the dead eyes of a 36 year old father of 3, but my beard is coming in nonetheless, some of the hairs have grown enough to cover the patches and shhhhh I’ve plugged the white hairs… doesn’t help my hair is like 50% blonde, so maybe I ripped half the beard off, but, let’s go to work. I don’t know the stats but most of my peers have beards right now, so do I blend in yet? Nope, apparently I’m now Tony Stark, I guess that’s a shot at me? Pencil thin beard and moustache? SMH we are going for voyageur, not twighlight saga, I should mention I’m half Italian and a mixed of other Western European/English/welsch and I don’t think that’s the same lineage as Gandalf, so I may be out of luck. Another day passes, a customer comes in and I think I actually witnessed someone’s breath taken away, like when you imagine how you hope your spouse feels when they see you naked, I heard an audible gasp, then maybe the word beard? or it could have been fear? or beer? I don’t know, anyways, I pulled the beak of my hat down and went to work.
Week 5, well I’d say we are 50% to full coverage, and now people notice.
“Are ya growing something?”
“Hit puberty I see?”
“What’s that dirt on your face?”
“Whatcha trying to do there?”
“Someone needs a shave…”
I should mention this was one day, In a professional setting, where people pay for my service, it’s funny, you realize, how people can be hurtful, without thinking, because they don’t think. I’m 100% guilty of this and I’d like to say so far it hasn’t bothered me, but I wrote a blog about it, because I’m thinking about it a lot. Makes me realize I need to pause, think, then speak. Let’s move a little further in the week, a few more comments like those above, then all of a sudden I must have hit a new achievement or level in this beard growing add-on in my edition of this simulation, because now people are touching me, invading my private space and touching my face without asking, getting real close and personal and inspecting me, like they can tell, I’m actually a lizard man in a man suit, the beard is just glued on, I don’t know, but picture this;
Pushes glasses up with index finger, leans in, yes, ah…yes I see, ok…then turns around and just walks away, like what the actual fishoil did I just witness, or how about this; Walks up to me, ducks low, like she dodgeing bullets, curls to the side, stick one finger out and rubs it accross my lip, “Oh whatcha got here, haven’t seen this before, you lettin it grow, eh bud? I remember back in the day, my husband grew one, then he went grew, no one wants to look like santa” All the while finger still on my face, caressing the long curly hairs of my drink filter. That was odd, it’s interesting what people will do on impulse, and think completely normal.
Guess I’m feeling pretty good, maybe I’ll post a selfie on Instagram story, at least it will be gone in a day, awe yea! DMs maybe people need a trainer or want to check out the gym, oh nope NVM…”What’s that dirt on your face?” …here we go, needless to say, I didn’t delete the image, really I don’t care at all, or do I? I always tell people I don’t care what I look like, well why did I want to grow a beard in the first place? It’s about looks, obviously people want approval, praise and encouragement, this experiment has been a lesson in being cautious about what I say to other people, maybe think before the witty comment comes out about someones new clothes, new haircut, new hobby, tattoo etc. So as I go into 2020 as my son wants me to grow “a beard all the way across the room, then shave” I’m going to be a bit more mindful about what I say to others and maybe you should too!
Dino Camire is a business owner, author and speaker. 15 years in the fitness industry he has helped thousands improve their health for life. Check out his gym onefamilyfitness.com and supplement line bodiesbyscience.netCome back often for sceptical health and fitness content!