True Stuff: Shaving as Barbarous

As reported in the New Hampshire Sentinel, June 20, 1855:

The Albany Argus has espoused the beard movement. This is its argument: – “We have come to the conclusion that the practice of shaving is alike ridiculous and absurd, and that it violates one of the laws of nature. Now, our beard was not given us for no purpose – that is evident. It was created for some wise purpose, and that was to keep the face and throat warm, and thus be conducive to health. Let us look at a few facts. It has been calculated that if one shaves three times a week, it grows twenty times as fast as if he did not shave. Allowing two inches as the annual growth of the beard, it will be seen that a man cuts off forty inches, or more than a yard of hair a year, and the nutriment which supports this, and is thus wasted, might have gone to nourish other parts of the body, and render him a healthy and handsome man! Again, allowing twenty minutes to each shaving operation, three times a week, amounts to one hour a week, – fifty-two hours a year. Supposing a man to shave forty years, we find he has consumed about three months in the simple act of shaving ; and calculating the expense of each operation at the small sum of six cents, we find it has cost him three hundred and sixty dollars. In view of these facts, we cannot but regard the practice of shaving as a decidedly barbarous one, and which ought to be discountenanced by the progressive civilization of the age.”

For more on the Beard Movement of the 1850s, see my interview with the world’s foremost beard expert.

p.s. do you think “shaving / barbarous” was pun-intended because I DO


  • IX

    Here here!

    I’ve been trying to tell the military this, but they won’t listen.

  • http://teatopour.blogspot.com Aaron

    “Discountenanced” is probably a pun in the same vein, as well.

  • http://www.bridportradio.co.uk/content/blogsection/3/144/ Bridport Radio

    I’ve been trying to tell my wife this, but she won’t listen.
    I thought “Barbarian” was a reference to beards (barbe). Not so
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=barbarian

  • Laura

    the beard’s main purpose is simply sexual selection. it shows that a male is adult and ready for mating, a healthy beard shows a healthy mate. it also serves some protection from fights between males, usually over females. a better beard protects better from strangulation, bites, etc.

  • John B

    2 inches a year?! Why, I have the beard-growing power of 10 men. I am a veritable Homeric hero of beard-growing.

  • solak

    If not “barbarous”, then certainly, “discountenanced”.

  • Timothy J. McGowan

    I found the entire disquisition simply rebarbative!

  • solak

    Some beards are more trustworthy than others.
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/reddit/the-trustworthiness-of-beards-img
    (originally from Matt McInerney of pixelspread.com)

  • Charles

    Unfortunately, most dudes with bears in 2010 are hipster douchebags.

  • Dan

    Yeah, I can’t stand those hipsters sitting in Starbucks with their Macbooks, soy lattes, and grizzly bears.