Bearded Disney Characters

January 26, 2012 by staff 

Bearded Disney Characters, Not since King John grudgingly signed along the dotted line of the Magna Carta have we been afforded a moment quite as glorious, or as long overdue, as this. When, one distant day, future historians sit down to chronicle the true turning points in humanity’s ceaseless struggle against tyranny and oppression, they will happen upon Disney’s decision to allow staff at its theme parks in the US to wear beards – and they will start scribbling furiously.

Finally, those of us who choose not to remove the hair that grows naturally on our faces are now free to apply for a job shepherding harassed families around Mickey’s Toontown while encouraging them to interact with grown men dressed as Daffy Duck. As I say, an important moment.

But Disney’s public pronouncements in support of beardies need to be read closely. While they may now permit facial hair, they nonetheless still expect it to be “short and neat” (it can be no longer than a quarter of an inch, which, as Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, is not a beard – it’s a gesture). So Santa Claus wouldn’t have been allowed to work at Disneyland. Neither would Jesus. Interesting message you’re putting out there, Disney.

I am not a beard fascist. I haven’t signed up to the Beard Liberation Front. I pay no mind to the winner of their annual Beard of the Year competition. But I stand by my facial hair. With a shaved face I look like a second-hand car salesman. But once I’d made the decision to cover up the worst of my features, my life was changed.

I’ve stopped being surprised by how many people – men and women alike – come up to talk to me about my beard. Just last week, getting into a cab, I was immediately met with the words: “Now THAT’S a beard. I want that.”

‘”How do you grow it?” they often ask next, wondering, perhaps, if sprinkling a little BeardGro on my face were the secret.

I’ve been accosted in clubs, standing outside pubs, waiting in the queue at the supermarket. Once I was asked by a (possibly drunk) woman if she could rub her face against my beard. I politely declined. She looked like she might never have stopped.

And therein lies the point about beards. If you are going to grow one, do it properly. No chin straps. No soul patches. No goatees. No neat little lines. It’s beard or no beard.

Now, I’m not saying you don’t want to take care of the thing. Keep it trim. Don’t let it hang over your upper lip. Wash it (you know, like you wash the hair on your head).

But let’s not let Disney get away with the idea that beards beyond a certain length represent slovenliness. Or a lack of attention to your personal appearance. In fact, it’s the other way round; paying too much attention to your beard is often a sign of a lack of trustworthiness. Even the Romans knew this, as the philosopher Seneca noted:

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