In the past few years the beard has become an iconic symbol of masculinity. Men all over the world have become more self-aware of their health and wellness. In recent years November has been hailed as men’s health month dubbed Movember. It is mostly characterized by men not shaving their beard for thirty days to create awareness on men’s health and general well-being. Throughout the month of November men of all walks of life flaunt their beards to raise awareness on various issues. It is quite a feat.
What about the men who have not been able to grow a beard? This category of men has fallen to constant mockery and said to not be man enough. As a man who has still not grown a full beard I can honestly reveal that these jokes do hit a certain part of the soul and it is not funny.
I dread Movember. I am not sure if other men who have not grown a full beard like myself share the same sentiment. I wanted to find out if really facial hair defined masculinity. I came up with an idea. Find some individuals who had never grown a full beard and have someone beard them up and see the reactions of the people closest to them. I really wanted to see if the general public would look at these individuals differently? Would family members and close friends feel differently about them? How would the characters themselves feel about their masculinity after all this?
I love storytelling and I find that I do it best through imagery. Stories however consist of many components and players. This one was no different.
The idea was to have beards done to individuals who had never grown a full beard in their lives. I sought the services of special effects artist Grace Murema to beard my characters. I also chose everyday people for the project. The first being my friend Ngotho Maina and a new friend I made while working on a film Maphat Flavian. For the shoot I asked photographer Brain Gathu to come in and assist me on the shoot and these are the images that we came up with.