Facial hair a rite of passage for college men

By Andrew Ritchey


Knowledge and experience aren’t the only things that grow during college. Andrew Ritchey brings us his story of what it means to become a man.


Facial hair is manly.  Period.  Women can drink, shoot guns, and fix old cars just as well as men can.  But they’ll never be able to grow a righteous ‘stache.  Around middle school, boys start tending wisps of facial hair.  The transformation from wisps to beard mirrors the transition to manhood.  It’s not surprising, then, that young men across the nation grow and experiment with their facial hair in college.

It’s not a subtle thing.  It’s not supposed to be subtle; it’s supposed to be manly.  Facial hair gave Samson the power to slay 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.  While the power of a beard may not be quite as strong today, third-year Philip Marschall still gets strength from his beard.

PHILIP MARCHALL: It makes me feel cool. Having a beard’s pretty good, and girls definitely like it, so it’s a big plus.

A big plus indeed.  It’s hard walking up to a random woman.  Beards draw women in.  They’re mysterious, yet calming, soft, yet one of the crowning achievements of testosterone.  I asked Andy Bierman what people thought of his goatee.

ANDY BIERMAN: All my friends in college have never seen me without it, so I guess it’s just like a part of me [laughter].

DORICK ENVERALL: Can’t you tell there are tons of screaming girls around here?

Interrupting there was Andy’s friend, Dorick Enverall, who describes his majestic beard thusly:

DORICK ENVERALL:  It’s pretty much just all over. It starts at my forehead, goes down to the chest, you know?

I do know.  Facial hair makes a statement.  It declares adulthood in a way that can’t be ignored, even when rosy cheeks try to hold you back.  Second-year Bradley Strickley uses his goatee and sideburns for this purpose.

BRADLEY STRICKLEY:  My face looks kind of, really young if I don’t have facial hair, so I just feel like it makes me older, cause I generally associate with older generation, older people.

College is a time to discover yourself and and your place in the world.  Facial hair is a key that grants access to rugged virility and rakish sophistication.  And parents?

WILL BRINSON:  They complain every once in a while, my Mom does, but I don’t care. [laughter]

That was second-year Will Brinson.


Grooming my own sideburns in Chapel Hill, This is Andrew Ritchey.

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