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There is absolutely denying it, beards are back, and it really doesn't look like they are going away, in fact, wherever you look, you are surrounded by beards. From the hipster in the independent coffee shop, to the car salesman in the showroom, hell, even Pierce Brosnan has a beard.
And don't get me wrong, they look great on some people and I suppose they must keep your face warm and have other practical uses?
But as good as they look on people, there is a downside, well for me there is anyway. I have something called pogonophobia which is an irrational fear of beards or bearded people. It comes from the Latin "pogon" meaning beard.
I don't know why I and apparently many other people have this fear, but it affects a big enough percentage of the population to be classified as a genuine phobia.
What are the Causes of Pogonophobia?
Like any phobia, pogonophobia can stem from any number of things, it can come from a traumatic experience with a bearded person, people may not like how much of the person's face is hidden behind the beard, or like many other phobias, have no clear reason behind it.
The levels of pogonophobia are like any other phobia, they will be different for each individual, for example, I am comfortable looking at pictures of people with beard, and talking to them, but I can't stand too close and I become very uncomfortable when they attempt to make physical contact with me.
And before I go on to the symptoms I have to stress that this is nothing personal, it's not rudeness, I don't think you're going to hurt me or that you are a bad person because you have a beard. I just have a weird phobia that means through no fault of mine or yours, I am a little bit afraid. So please don't mistake my phobia for rudeness, if you're cool, I'm cool.
Symptoms of Pogonophobia
Again, these will be different for each individual, it will depend on the severity of their phobia, but some common symptoms include:
A feeling of intense nervousness when talking to or looking at someone with a beard. Some people can look at pictures of people with beards, but this can trigger other people's fear response.
An unwillingness to be friends, associate or even talk to someone who has a beard.
Shaking or sweating when faced with or near someone who has a beard.
An increase in heart rate when someone with a beard or a picture of someone bearded is near.
An unwillingness to get too close to someone who has a beard.
As I mentioned before, the levels of fear are different for each person, some people like me can talk to someone with a beard, some people can't even talk or think about beards without feeling nervous and frightened.
Treatment for Pogonophobia
Pogonophobia is recognized as a phobia, but getting treatment for it can be difficult, it is not something that is taken seriously, I had a therapist laugh at me once because I said I was scared of people with beards, a therapist. So I took it on myself to help manage my fear, you can try talking to someone about it if they will listen though, I am not saying no therapists would listen.
In order to help manage my pogonophobia which used to be so severe I could not talk to anyone with a beard, I took some measures to help make it better.
I Started Looking at Pictures
I looked at pictures of people with beards for a really long time, I studied their faces, look at all the features and got myself accustomed to looking at people with beards.
I Forced Myself to be Calm
When I was doing this I worked in a shop, so whenever anyone with a beard came in, I couldn't very well run and hide, but my heart rate would go crazy and my hands would start to shake. So I had to take a deep breath before I spoke to them, not stand too close and look them in the eyes.
I looked at the Different Kinds of Facial Hair
It is a wide, hairy world out there and there are so many variations on a bog standard full beard! So I studied all of these and found out which ones I was most afraid of and concentrated on getting over those, I figured if I could get over a full on dark bushy beard, a little stubble would be powerless over me.
Pogonophobia Throughout History
It might not be the most controversial thing that he disliked but the much loved anti Semite Walt Disney had a beard ban in place for all of his employees which was only lifted in 2012, a curious 55 years after it was put in place.
And whilst you might think you can stroll in and get work with your Brian Blessed beard, think again. Their beard rules are so strict, they really might as well have left the ban in place.
"All mustaches, beards, and goatees must create an overall neat, polished and professional look. They must be fully grown in, neatly groomed and well maintained at no longer than a quarter of an inch in length."
"Male Disney Internships & Programs participants wishing to have a mustache, beard, or goatee should arrive with their facial hair fully grown in. Partially grown in stubble or facial hair with hairless patches is not acceptable. Facial hair cannot be grown during working periods."
"If a goatee is grown it must connect to an appropriately grown mustache."
"A goatee should be fully grown in under the bottom lip and symmetrical on both sides."
"A well groomed beard has a defined cheek line and neckline, which is trimmed neatly. The neck must be shaven."
The Iron lady, never one for mincing her words once stated she "wouldn't tolerate any minister of mine wearing a beard". Thankfully there are no such rules in place now, but still, a lot of politicians don't have beards.
We're Not Rude, We're Nervous!
I have to say it again, if I seem nervous of you, I don't mean to be rude, I know a spider won't hurt me, but they still make me a little bit anxious.