Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shave for Honor

Brigham Young c1870Brigham Young was a man's man. He founded his own de-facto nation in Utah. He was said to have the power of God. He sanctioned the massacre of pioneers. He was a world class bigot. He wore magic underwear. He may have been a delusional religious tyrant but, with 55 wives and nearly as many children, no one could doubt his bearded virility.

So, it is with some irony that the Mormon university founded with his name has beardlessness as a part of it's student code of honor. To violate this code is to be removed forthwith. Brigham Young would be expelled from his own university for violating the honor code.

There are exceptions, however. One is permitted to grow a beard with a medical exemption from university doctors.

A student who wishes to obtain a beard exception must visit a BYU Student Health Center doctor by appointment (422.5156). The doctor will fax his recommendation. The student then needs to come to the Honor Code Office to fill out some paperwork and receive the letter allowing the growth of the beard, if approved. If a yearly beard exception is granted, a new Student ID will be issued after the beard has been fully grown, and must be renewed every year by repeating the process.

If a request is granted for a temporary or more permanent beard exception the student will be notified by the Honor Code Office; at which time the student will come into the office to complete the necessary paperwork. After completion of this process the student may then grow a full beard according to the guidelines given.

Wearing a beard is dishonorable? Heresy! Sacrilege! Sure, BYU bans sex, swearing, plagarism and shorts or skirts above the knee, which shouldn't be surprising for a religious university, but beards? And tea! Can you believe that they ban tea as being somehow unwholesome?

That's just not civilized.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Crown Prince Frederick III 1870One of the (many) advantages of having a longer beard or moustache is that of styling. Men with close cropped beads have no oppotunity for variation short of shaving and then they are caught within that particular style until the follicles grow back out.

But a man with longer bears can move the hairs this way or that to elicit a particular effect. I give you Frederick III, at this time in 1870 the crown prince of Prussia and later to serve as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Many of the paintings and photographs that I have seen of his royal majesty present him with a somewhat conventional beard. I have seen others where the beard is somewhat split in the middle, slightly less conventional but nothing too dramatic.

But here, he has taken the comb from the center of the chin and drawn it horizontally, in some ways extending the horizontal pull of the moustache down across the chin.


It may perhaps have been effected for a practical purpose of revealing the medal at his throat rather than having it concealed by a vertically combed beard.

I like to think it was more than that.