Friday, 21 May 2010

Off with his beard

If you were a bearded British civil servant and members of the public complained that dealing with bearded public officials was "unpleasant", you'd just laugh and fondly stroke the impugned item.

But it's not so simple in Isesaki in Japan, where male officials have been told to shave off all facial hair, including beards, moustaches and designer stubble, to avoid offending the public.

They've been told that "public servants should look like public servants" and the measure will "improve decorum".

One wonders what other "unpleasant" features might be next for the chop. Earrings? Over-long hair? Orange ties? Sunglasses? The good citizens of Isesaki must be a sensitive bunch. Maybe they see the beards as germ-infested. Or they're convinced beard equals terrorist.

I hope it doesn't catch on here. I mean, I rather like a clean-shaven guy myself, but I wouldn't give a bearded official the evil eye. I'm sure he has his reasons for encouraging follicular lushness. It may hide that alarming scar or signal his anarchist sympathies.

And suppose the partner of the depilated official was quite fond of the beard or the moustache? Suppose they even found it erotic? Would a false beard do the job instead?

If I were one of the wayward functionaries, I would be tempted to come in next day immaculately clean-shaven, but with scarlet lipstick and magenta eye shadow. And hoop earrings the size of saucers.

Now what could be more pleasant?

20 comments:

kylie said...

so, the first step is to grow a beard. then when you are asked to get rid of it you have the perfect opportunity to wear your earrings

Megan said...

I like facial hair. Not my own, though.

Grannymar said...

Nick, you forgot the powdered wig!

Wisewebwoman said...

*lone voice in the wilderness*

Aren't beards totally unhygienic?

XO
WWW

Baino said...

Sorry but I'm with the Japanese officials. I have a great distrust of men who need to hide their faces with facial hair! Take it off . . take it all off!

Nick said...

Kylie - Good plan! Plus a nose-ring, naturally.

Megan - No, facial hair's not quite so winsome on a gal.

Grannymar - Oh no, wigs are far too hot and uncomfortable.

www - So they say. All those thousands of germs festering away in that lovely warm nest.

Baino - Me too. I do wonder what they're hiding behind all that foliage.

Scarlet Blue said...

No, facial hair's not quite so winsome on a gal.
Ha! Prejudice!
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - Actually I don't think it's winsome on a bloke either. So no prejudice there! Or maybe even-handed prejudice....

Leah said...

I understand police officers and fire fighters not being allowed facial hair (they're usually not), but all civil servants?

By the way, "you'd just laugh and fondly stroke the impugned item" is one of the funniest things I've read recently. You're a good writer.

Nick said...

Leah - I'm a good writer for approximately blogpost-length. Anything longer and I'm crap. My imagination only works in small bursts. How's your novel coming along?

It's interesting that although there aren't any formal bans on beards in Britain (as far as I know) very few men actually have them. The clean-shaven look is the unspoken norm.

tattytiara said...

They can pretty much discriminate on the basis of all those things you mentioned. In Japan it is custom for people to attach a photograph to their resume. It's completely okay for people not to hire you because of the way you look. Likewise I remember seeing help wanted signs that stated what the maximum age an applicant could be, eg under 30.

secret agent woman said...

I'm not sure how this is different than having a dress code. I think a company has a right to ask that people be well-groomed, especially if there have been complaints. But it seems like a neat beard shouldn't be a big problem.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think people should be allowed to look as they choose, as long as they're bathed and have no rank odors.

Please post a picture of yourself in those hoop earrings and magenta eye shadow.

Nick said...

Tattytiara - A photo on the resumé? Lookist recruiting? Japan is even worse than I thought. The equality laws in Northern Ireland are now some of the toughest in the world.

Secret Agent - True, a minimum dress code is necessary in any job. And I agree, well-groomed and not scruffy is surely all that's necessary. Save the beard!

Heart - Absolutely, the thing that really puts you off is body odour. If beards are a problem, we'd better fire Santa Claus.

Okay, photo coming up. Oh damn, the battery's run out.

Rummuser said...

Nick, sometimes, one just has to keep a beard. In my case, when I was much younger, due to a very sensitive skin, I was advised to keep a short beard and for fortyfive years now, I have kept a full beard. Every time I take it off, there are howls of protest from various quarters, as I am simply identified as someone with a beard. In fact, I am known as a
Dhaadiwala, Hindi for a person with a beard. I wonder what I would do if due to legislation or some regulation, I had to remove my beard!

Nick said...

Ramana - Good question. I wonder if a Japanese official could plead medical reasons for keeping his beard? I can well imagine that if you shaved your beard off, the unfamiliar face would cause total consternation!

Kate said...

Magenta eye shadow? surely not Nick - i have you as more of a bronze eyeshadow man!!

My long term relationship (16 years) ended last September - he had a beard and long hair.... and he always said it was something to hide behind!!!

So - for equality sake - men should be clean shaven - no hiding place!!!

Nick said...

Kate - Bronze? So run-of-the-mill, darling. I've heard a lot of men trot out that line about something to hide behind. No need to hide, guys, just let it all hang out....

meno said...

I'm in favor of banning polyester clothing! But facial hair is okay, sorta.

Nick said...

Meno - Oh yes, polyester is vile! Facial hair is okay, sorta? Does that mean a neat goatee is better than a rampant beard?