It all started more than a decade ago in 1995 when I had joined a computer graphics training academy in Vadapalani. There I had met this fellow student sporting a strange moustache with a life of its own. Unlike other moustaches I had good fortune to observe in the past, this one had refused to remain stuck on the upper lip. It had greater ambitions. This moustache not only made itself a bushy resident under the guy’s nostrils, it had also managed to spread tentacles out around his mouth and encroach upon his chin.
Needless to say, it was the first time I met someone with a ‘French Beard’ – as it is called in South India. The first impression was one of intimidation and aggression. I thought I need to steer clear of this fellow and that’s what I did in the beginning. But soon I realized my first impressions were wrong. This guy was actually pally and approachable. I wondered what made me come to the initial false conclusion. I got the answer a few weeks later when the guy had shaved his ‘Frenchie’.
His face had transformed from being menacing and aggressive to sensitive and soft. ‘He sported the beard to look assertive!’ said a quiet voice at the back of my head.
I did not have much time to draw more meaning out of this for my life got busy booting me about. Of course that quiet part of my mind to which the quiet voice had belonged to, continued to make quiet notes on people with French Beards.
Much, much later as I came by this profession and got busy seeing clients, the quiet mind began to open its quiet mouth once more. I noticed a strange correlation between a French Beard and self-esteem levels of the guy sporting it.
Nearly everybody who walked into my therapy room with a French beard was suffering from low self-esteem – either temporarily or chronically. They were also soft spoken personalities. ‘Their beard is a coping mechanism’, whispered the quiet voice from the back of my head.
I was almost convinced but not enough to submit a dissertation on it. It was convincing, I mean. I realized how uncomfortable and squirmy I used to become before people with French beards. Think how a small outgrowth left unchecked, or cunningly manicured, could transform an entire face from a simple, sweet front to a severe and intimidating facade insisting on a matching presence of a strong minded personality beneath the cranium.
I began to take serious note of French bearded people. I noticed the quiet observation of my quiet mind was quite admirable. Even those who were temporarily sporting the French beards were undergoing temporary self-esteem or ‘stage presence’ issues.
You have to note that this is not true of every beard that falls under the broad, fuzzy category of French beards. I am speaking of true French Beards – those unbroken lines of brush that crawl around the mouth and cover a lot of chin. Even all true French beards, I’ve noticed, are not for compensation of presence. Especially when a number of elderly gentlemen nowadays are gravitating towards the classic Fench cut, I’ve realized they are merely trying to cover up wrinkles under the chin rather than to make up for any inner lack they feel. Yes, perhaps that is also an issue of image, but I can’t care to comment upon it.
On a serious note, all I can say is that in all the cases of such lack of self-esteem or ‘stage presence’ the lack is only a belief held by the mind rather than any real insufficiency. The mind then simply attracts situations to prove its beliefs right and proceeds to subtly alter the behavior of the person just because there is a self-held belief.
Note: This article is meant to be anecdotal and lighthearted. Not to be taken seriously.
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