May 31, 2011

The Beard Project

Bearded woman Paula documents her experience when she challenges herself to stop shaving for three months.

And then this weekend, she posted this video to mark the unexpected end of her project:

So the beard had to go because of a job interview. And it's one of the last things I think about, when I fantasize about being utterly myself, inside and out, by letting the beard grow. If I had that courage, I could probably deal with the strange looks, or alienating some people who I thought were my friends. My beard would be a filter, separating the important, truly loving people in my life from the shallow ones. As there's no other noted bearded lady where I live, people would probably quickly come to recognize me, and either be repulsed, or realize that here's just another human being with a neat genetic quirk. It might inspire people, the way these videos inspired me... not so much to do the same thing, but to just be okay with who you are. Because really, there are a lot of other women just like us.

But when it comes to a job, very few would employ a woman with a beard to represent their company in any way. Most want a clean-cut, normal-looking person... and some will only hire especially good-looking employees. You often can't have unique-colored hair or piercings, or express your personal style through clothing... and that's just because so much of a business' reputation is all about image. As Paula points out in her latest video it's true for women and for men. I know I could not be allowed to do my job if I stopped shaving. Actually, that might be a fascinating situation to see how my boss might approach asking me to shave, and if I refused, how he would decide to dismiss me in a legal and politically correct way. That would be kind of amusing...

And being unable to find a job anywhere but a circus (I'm exaggerating here) would leave me free to pursue my artistic dreams, for which I do not have to represent anybody but myself and my work. That's almost tempting.

Anyway, I loved watching these videos and seeing a woman who faces her fear like that. If I ever saw her on the street I think I'd just run up and hug her, and royally freak her out. Thank you to Sophie for finding these!

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