Beards & “Real Men”
Since I started St. Kilda Beard Care a couple of years ago, I’ve tried to steer clear of the machismo that is employed by far too many other beard care companies.
If you’ve spent any time at all shopping around the internet for beard care products, you know what I am talking about. Some companies — not all, or even the majority, but enough to be noticeable — choose to promote their products with a hyper-masculinity. Beards get you ladies! Beards make you a real man! Men without beards are wimps! A common meme reads, “There’s a name for people without beards — women!”
Some of these memes are offered in good humor, but often they can be sexist, crude and insulting. That’s not the image I choose to project. I strive to promote my product without insulting women, men who chose not to grow beards, or men whose genetics don’t allow for a full beard.
All this came to mind recently when I watched a video from Eric Bandholz, founder of BeardBrand, on the topic of “Real Men.” There are two sides to this “real men” coin. On one side, there are those beard-promoters who suggest that to be a Real Man you must have a big, bushy beard. On the other side, there are those who suggest that the whole idea of “beard care” is something a Real Man would find ridiculous (apparently hygiene isn’t “manly”).
I found myself agreeing with most all of Eric’s points, which I will summarize here with some additions of my own. The whole idea of a “real man” is kind of meaningless when you think about it. What is a “real man?” Would the opposite be a “fake man” or an “imaginary man?” Biologically speaking, if you are a post-pubescent male of the human species, you are a man. I know many men, some good and some not-so-good. One thing they all have in common is their reality. (If any of them are imaginary, someone please tell me so I can seek professional help).
What people really mean when they say “real man” is good man. And what constitutes a good man is a matter for a different discussion. I would suggest that a good man is one who is (or is striving to be) virtuous. The word “virtue” comes from vir, the Latin word for “man.” Virtues were originally put forward as manly attributes — though of course women can and should be virtuous, as well. My point is that when seeking to become a good man taking a look at the classical virtues is a good place to start. Deciding to grow a beard has very little to do with it.
While I was watching the video and nodding my head in agreement with what this fellow beardsman had to say about “real men,” I remembered that my St. Kilda business cards are emblazoned with “for real men with real beards.”
Was I a hypocrite? In all honesty, when I decided to use that statement on my business cards I meant something entirely different by “real men.” It is somewhat more clear on my web site where I make the folllowing statement:
St Kilda Beard Care
We use real ingredients. We put them in real glass bottles or jars. We mail them to real men, to use on their real beards, which will then look real nice.
What I mean by “real” in this context can be summarized as authentic rather than synthetic. One major way I try to make St. Kilda Beard Care stand out from the other beard care products on the market is by avoiding synthetics. That’s why we use essential oils to scent our products and not fragrance oils. That’s why we use glass containers instead of plastic. Our customers come to us looking for a genuine, hand-crafted product — not something just like what you can find on the shampoo shelf in the drug store.
So what does “real men” mean in this context? Simply this. Our products are made for actual people: real men, to use on their actual beards. We design our product with real people in mind, not hyped up images of what bearded men are supposed to be like. If you are looking for product to make your beard look like those men in the beard competitions or the crazy pictures you see on Facebook, look elsewhere.
Not that beard competition winners and guys like Mr. Incredibeard (above) are not real men. But they are certainly not the norm — and they don’t look like that every day.
Most men say they prefer “real women” to supermodels. Of course supermodels are real women, too. What they mean is that they prefer the genuine specimen over the false image. That’s what I mean when I say I make beard care products “for real men with real beards.” That’s why we are called St. Kilda Beard Care and not St. Kilda Beard Fashion.
Our beard oils, balms and waxes are made for regular men, whether their beards are short, long, thick or thin. And if you have no beard at all, that’s cool, too— though you won’t find our products as useful. It doesn’t make you less of a real man and certainly has no bearing on whether you are a good man. There are other, much more important factors in that consideration.
We certainly hope our customers are good men — or at least working to become better men. In the meantime, we’ll help you get there with a clean, healthy and happy beard, which is all a “real man” can ask for!