Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Beard Legacy

This may be a bit egotistical of me, but it seems I have a way of starting hair fads. Let me explain. When I went to Ukraine in 2002, I had a goatee--as did another member of my team. By the time we left about a month and half later, at least two of the Ukrainian students had begun to grow goatees. This is in a country where facial hair is very rare.

After Ukraine, I had a "beard buddy" on staff with me as a Peer Adviser in Donnelly Hall at MU. A couple years later, I spent another summer in Eastern Europe, this time in Serbia. I had a beard the entire summer, save once when I shaved it off. Again, some of the students I had met with tried their best to grow beards.

Now, go to November 2004. I began work at the Forum 8 movie theater as an employee, a bearded employee. I work my way through the ranks and become a manager in early 2005--right around the same time we get a large new batch of employees. As the summer approached, it was possible for me to manage a shift with not only all male employees, but all bearded male employees. I know at least one of the guys got static from his parents about the beard, yet he kept it.

I left the Forum 8 at the end of July 2005 with my beard legacy intact. When I arrived in Korea at the end of August, I found Korea almost completely beardless. This is mostly because of the inability to grow beards I'm sure. However, I did catch one of older teachers at my school growing a bit of a beard just before the Chusok holiday a couple weeks ago.

I have middle school students, who are 14 or 15 at the oldest, so in the beard department they have both age and genetics at their disadvantage. Just before I left for the Chusok holiday. I buzzed off my hair. It was among the shortest I've ever had it. When I returned, I was greeted with many compliments from students, staff, and even my principals. I heard everything from, "Your so handsome," to "You look so young," and my favorite, "I love you!"

A few days later, on the way to lunch, I noticed the first buzzed head among the students. It was on one of the third graders (roughly equivalent to 9th grade US) who was in the cool clique. He was waiting outside the cafeteria for his friends. He pointed out his hair and that it was the same cut I had. I told him, "Looking good. Now you just have to grow a beard." He quickly pointed to his chin. I got closer and noticed four stray hairs. Little did I know what was to come.

This past Monday, a week after I unveiled my buzzed head, and three days after one of the "cool kids" came sporting his version of my cut, it was all over the school. I counted at least twenty kids who had buzzed their hair over the weekend, with more added by Wednesday. Now, I can't take complete credit for this amazing fad, but there's something to it. What can I say, the kids dig me?


  1. I've heard that Koreans consider themselves "more highly evolved" because of their lack of body hair. Any truth to this? (The sentiment, not the science)

  2. Howabout a shaved head fad?


  3. That "evolved" comment is interesting. I think that will be a hard thing to get a straight answer from. I know this is very anecdotal, but actually, from talking to fellow American English teachers (which are less hairy) I think I might be getting more respect. I know there is a whole lot that goes into that, but its something to think about.


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