Anyone who joined the Navy after 1984 has lived in a beardless service. The cover story we heard for the reason facial hair was outlawed was that it made it difficult to establish an air tight seal with an Oxygen Breathing Apparatus or a gas mask. The real story, of course, was that a lot of Sailors sporting beards looked really bad. Case in point, a photo of Secretary of the Navy Mabus when he was in uniform.

Secretary of the Navy Mabus (Photo from USNI article, "A Brief History of Grooming in the U.S. Navy)"

Secretary of the Navy Mabus (Photo from USNI article, “A Brief History of Grooming in the U.S. Navy)”

I have met Secretary Mabus and he is a handsome man, due in part because he doesn’t wear a beard now.

There is an exception to the rule, of course, involving special forces and others who fit in fuzzy, undisclosed categories that allow them to grow facial hair to fit in with the locals in the Middle East.

Cartoon celebrating the SEAL's 50th anniversary

Cartoon celebrating the SEAL’s 50th anniversary

I do not think anyone changed Navy regulations to allow the SEALs to grow beards. I think they have been allowed to wear them because no one was brave enough to tell them they couldn’t.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in the old days, men wore beards and looked good doing it. Here is Rear Admiral Worden in 1873 (also from the USNI article).


That type of beard was typical and stylish for his generation. He would have been described as distinguished and noble.

Today he would be called a lumbersexual.

The reason I bring this up is because I promised my daughter that I would go with her on Halloween, dressed as a lumberjack. To be authentic, I started growing a beard about ten days ago. This is what it looks like:


As I study my reflection, it occurs to me that the sparse growth with a decidedly gray tint to it lands me somewhere between Papa Smurf and one of the guys on the Cialis commercials; neither of which is appealing to me.

So after Halloween the beard comes off for good, and from now on I’ll stick to growing what I grow best.



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