What does a beard do to men? Quite a lot!

Men in beards An exclusive club for the well-whiskered in BengaluruBangalore Beard Club/Facebook
news Friday, July 01, 2016 - 19:35

When 31-year-old Vishal Singh founded the Bangalore Beard Club in May, it was with a clear purpose in mind – to break away from the stereotypes that a bearded man has to carry on his shoulders. Or perhaps, in his beard.

Over a month after setting up the club with six other members, Vishal is content with the brotherhood he has helped create, a platform for bearded men in the city to unite and share thoughts, hopes and fellow-feeling.

“The intention of setting up a club of this sort was to unite bearded men from different communities and social backgrounds, to create an offline social circle where discussion on men’s health issues also finds a place,” says Vishal.

That is, however, not the only purpose of the club. It also hopes to break away from the stereotype that only men from particular communities sport beards, and to break through the tags with which people mercilessly caricature and try to diminish bearded men.

Vishal, a wedding planner based currently in Bengaluru has been growing his beard for over a year now. The beard is now six inches long, announces Vishal proudly.

“Society, especially the older generation often view bearded men as people who are always hooked on to ganja. There is also a perception that bearded men are not compassionate, or that they cannot be good partners and responsible fathers,” Vishal claims.

He recalls being shouted at a couple of months ago at a government office in Koramangala, for absolutely no fault of his(so he claims). “At the time, my beard wasn’t even this long,” he chuckles.

What does a beard do to men? Quite a lot, if you believe Vishal. It not only boosts their morale and confidence, but also makes a difference in their overall personality. Vishal says a beard is “an extension of character.”

With the club currently comprising eight members, Vishal is in no hurry to expand it. He emphasises that it is important for the members to be recruited with care, as there is no question of compromising on the quality and exclusiveness of the club.

The primary requisite for recruitment to the club, he adds, is that men have a well-maintained beard, irrespective of how long it is or how long it’s been growing for. The club just recruited their eighth member a few weeks ago.

The lack of men’s grooming products is also a cause of concern for the members of the club.

Though Indian men have been growing beards for ages, Vishal says, there are a negligible number of beard-care products in the market: “Until a few years ago, Lifebouy was the only men’s product available. And even now, probably because the female to (bearded) male ratio isn’t that great, we still do not have many grooming products in the Indian market.”

Unlike intense grooming practices like weight loss workouts, maintaining a beard doesn’t demand very many complications in life. “Your beard grows even when you are asleep. You don’t have to do anything to make it grow. It only needs to be groomed properly,” Vishal says.

Prajval Jagirdar, the 8th member of the club speaks with much expertise about maintaining a beard. “Growing and maintaining a beard demands utmost commitment and effort,” Prajval declares.

For this 25-year-old HR professional who follows quite a number of international beard clubs, there was no greater joy than finding a beard club in his own city. After he won the best beard competition at an event organised by the club, Prajval was also recruited.

It was two years ago that Prajwal decided to go past the usual stubble and sport a beard.

Luckily for him, his company did not discourage him from doing so. “My company didn’t have a problem, also because my beard was well-maintained. But it’s hard for people working especially in the IT industry, where they are expected to turn up without even a stubble,” he says.

In the months to come, the members hope to expand the club and create a healthy space for like-minded (bearded) men who share common interests.

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