August 12, 2013

Lesson From The Mountain Top

I know, I know what you are thinking-- really another post about beards? Really? But what can I say, I'm a bit obsessed with the topic. My interest isn''t necessarily in beards, but in something more symbolic. Something I cannot yet name. Let me tell you a story:

Today was the first day back at school for all new and returning teachers. It was the first time I saw many people after an extended summer separation. Lots of smiles, hugs and small talk about relaxation and rejuvenation.

This was also the first time I was able to show off a pretty stout beard I have been growing since May. This was the first time many of my peers and friends had a chance to see this bad boy. Here are some of their comments:
  • Wow man! What's the deal with that thing? 
  • How long will this go on? 
  • Going for the Osama look huh? 
  • Have you ever been profiled? 
  • Have you been to the mountain top? 
  • How long did it take you to grow that? Like a day? 
  • (another person said) Less than that, desert people grow hair like crazy.  
See what I am getting at here? And this is what they said to my face! Feels weird to walk around all day being insulted. Am I being too sensitive? Probably. Because let's face it, I have always liked giving people something to talk about in terms of how I look and things I do. This is not a post about poor me. I am not easily offended. I like challenging the idea of what normal, successful, professionals should look like. I like pushing people's buttons.

I also like to challenge the idea of normalcy for our students.  I want  kids to see that adults come in all shapes and sizes. Tattooed, hairy and all.  I am concerned, that parents might take me less seriously because of how I look? How I dress? I am certain some do, but these preconceived ideas what a professional looks like are exactly why I like to change up my look so often.

It is also obvious that I like the attention. I understand a lot of it is just guys being guy. But I think it is worth mentioning the reactions I get with you. Keep you tuned in to this little sociological experiment of mine: Facial Hair and the community.  There feels to me, at least, to be a deeper investigation on how we see people and judge them based on appearance. What if my beard was religious? Would I get different reactions? Behind my back? What if I wore a turban? Does race play a factor? Class? Lot's of questions.

I did have one response that felt good and right:

Wow! That beard is fantastic. You look great. Really suits you.

See the difference there? Old adage--  If you haven't got anything nice to say....

So what's my point? I guess the reactions I get, help me learn how to interact with others.  They remind me to keep my comments about people's appearances to myself unless I am complimenting them. Which I realize is advice I need too. Because as I was writing this post, I remembered not be a self-righteous hypocrite--  I made several remarks about the folically challenged people we now employ on staff.

What do you think? Have I got a point? Should I just get over myself? Let me have it!

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