‘Never work with animals or children’ is the famous quote attributed to Hollywood actor W.C. Fields (he of the endearing comedy talent and prominent boozer’s nose). I’ve worked with both and never had a problem. In fact, small children and animals seem to warm to me. But recently, I’ve had a couple of experiences where children and dogs have shied away. The reason? My beard, apparently!
While out walking my Schnauser Ziggy (who has a fine beard of his own), another dog owner gave us a wide berth with her growling dog being restrained on a lead. ‘Sorry!’ she shouted. ‘He’s not normally like this – I think it’s the beard.’
Then again while attempting to coo over a friend’s small baby, a normally placid, gurgling bundle, I was surprised when the child burst into loud wailing as if Lucifer himself had just appeared. ‘She doesn’t like your beard,’ the mum explained.
Reading this you might imagine I have a ‘beard like a rhododendron bush’ to quote Black Adder. Perhaps the world is divided into those who like beards (pogonophiles) and those who have a real aversion to them (pogonophobes)? What is it about beards that makes some people smile yet makes others grimace like they just sucked a lemon?
Pogonophiles I can understand. Not pogonophobes. So, in the interests of widening the frontiers of beard knowledge, I looked into this a bit further using only the finest references available on the web. I was in for a surprise.
‘Pogonophobia’, says FearOf – The Ultimate List of Phobias and Fears, ’is the irrational, persistent and often unwarranted fear of beards. The word is derived from Greek pogon (beard) and phobos (fear).’
Taking a Freudian approach, they suggest that at some point, there might have been a negative or traumatic event in the sufferer’s past linked to men with beards. ‘The unconscious mind then creates the phobic response as a protective mechanism’.
OK, so perhaps the baby had a frightening encounter with Santa Claus (who wouldn’t be scared?). And the mutt might once have been once felt the boot of some bearded bruiser. Though in my defence I’d say I look more like Clement Freud than the bass player in ZZ Top.
Spot the pogonophobe
Surely these people (and animals?) are deserving of our sympathy? So that you may recognise and help any unfortunates suffering this terrible affliction, I’m sharing with you the tell-tale signs to look out for:
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilating around bearded men
- Irregular heart beat/palpitations
- Sweating, trembling
- Feeling anxious, nauseated
- Having a full blown anxiety/panic attack
Helping after the event is all very well, but here at Men Rock, we prefer more pro-active approach. Our top tip is to make sure that any facial hair you have is well groomed. We offer many products to help you achieve this. Give your beard extra appeal by choosing something with a pleasing scent.