Beards become the man
Facial hair — as hoary as Man himself. Throughout the centuries, men have grown and maintained beards, moustaches and combinations of the two. It’s true, yes, styles have come and gone, yet how is it that something as ubiquitous as the moustache remains a novelty, even today, in an increasingly globalized society such as ours, where nothing is shocking and hardly anything galvanizes? Enter Dale Light.
On the surface, Light is the embodiment of your typical 20-something. He’s a hardworking, blue-collar man who enjoys his beer and his community. No different than most young American men, he began shaving when he was 16. Possessing an innocuous fascination for the Beatles, he managed, in an ironic homage, to grow sideburns while still in high school. It wasn’t until 2007 that Light tried something a bit different and found his panache. Taking a cue from Dustin Hoffman’s character in the 1991 blockbuster Hook, Light employed a little Elmer’s glue to achieve the iconic handlebar with upturned, curled ends. It was this moustache that won him a coveted job at a bustling Italian deli in heart of Little Italy, in Pittsburgh, Penn. “The older Italian ladies just loved it,” says Light.
Today, Dale Light is a “beardlete,” competing in the first-ever National Beard and Moustache Championships. On Saturday, June 5, facially-flocked men from across the nation came to tout their beards in Bend. Attempting to wow the judges and take home the $1,000 prize, Light shaved his beard and reattached it to his forehead in what he calls “The Upside-down Beard.” He competed alongside a couple dozen other men (and a few women) in the Freestyle category, for which beardletes express their creativity through facial hair. In the Freestyle category, judges are asked to determine which contestant’s facial hair is the most creative and artistic.
The competition was stiff, and things got hairy as the panel of judges cast their votes. The distinguished panel was made up such notables as Sarwan Singh, the current Guinness Book of World Records record-holder for the world’s longest beard (just under 8 feet). CC Barber, the current Miss Oregon, was also among the judges, along with Captain Harry Lewis of the Incentive (from TV’s Deadliest Catch) and several other beard and moustache experts. After much deliberation, the prize for Best Freestyle Facial Hair went to the world-famous “Hair Pretzel,” Germany’s Willi Chevalier.
Though a crowd pleaser, Light’s upside-down beard failed to impress the judges. At the end of the day, Light learned that though the Freestyle category’s only rule is “anything goes,” good taste supersedes originality. But in no way has Light been dissuaded. Light says he feels inspired to put more time and effort into the appearance of his facial hair and will continue to compete as a beardlete in regional, national and perhaps even world championships.
“My overall impression of the event was very positive,” Light says of his first competition. “It was really incredible to see so many people from all over the world gathered to celebrate facial hair.”
Interested in joining the Eugene chapter of Beard Team USA? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org