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Perhaps you’ve been sitting under a rock, but it was only the other day, while watching an NBA game with your husband, that you discovered the invasion of the big beard. It was all over the courts, clinging to faces both black and white. It was like an ass, the bigger the better. It’s getting beastly.

It got you to thinking, where are they going with this? You know this country, this world is really going through something right now, is this man’s way of stepping up his game?

Or is it just a fashion trend? No deeper than the latest pair of Jordans?

While sitting at the new bagel shop in your Jersey City neighborhood, you see this guy. He’s black or Arab. Late 30’s to early 40’s. Beard hanging down to the floor. Do you dare ask him?

“Why did you grow out your beard?”

After taking a moment to size you up, he invites you to pull up a chair. His name is Paws aka Abbulalim Gonsalves, and turns out, he’s a black Muslim airbrush artist/entrepreneur who’s been rocking a beard for some years. He stopped trimming it less than a year ago when he had an epiphany, standing in the mirror, scissors in hand. “I had to ask myself, ‘who am I trimming it for? People or my creator?’ Because Allah commands that we spare the beard and trim the mustache.”

He admits that while he never regretted it, it did take a while for his heart to catch up. “We make ourselves appealing for other people and I didn’t know how people would respond. As an entrepreneur, would my work suffer?”

Ultimately, he says, the response has been good. “Women who used to grab their purses in line now show a certain level of respect. And work has only gotten better.” He points out that Allah takes care of his people.

When you ask him how he feels about big beards now being in fashion he sees it as a good thing because it’s an honorable look, but he doesn’t want to get lost in a fashion trend because for him, it’s definitely about the religion.

Score 1 for religion.

Not even 20 minutes later you see your boy Lyte Epps, while picking your daughter up from school. Funny how you see him everyday, but never noticed that he’s got a floor-length goatee. Maybe it’s because he’s in entertainment. You ask him about it.

“I’ve always been fascinated with Egyptian history,” he tells you, giving it a stroke with his hands, “Around 17 years old, I noticed my goatee would grow so long I started calling it my King Tut.” He’s rocking it again because without it he gets carded buying cigarettes. So the look makes him look older. He’s almost 40.

But he’s quick to dismiss fashion as an influence. “I’m one of the forefathers of the movement. I was rocking my goatee long when people were asking me why?”

And just how long is he planning to let it grow?

“I don’t know. That depends on my mood.”

Score 1 for maturity.

Later you’re on the phone with one of your buddies and the subject of big beards comes up. He tells you of a mutual friend at Berkeley studying law, looking like the Caveman from those old Geico commercials.

You ring him up.

“It’s something that I’ve tried a few times in the past,” he says of growing out his beard, “but this is by far the biggest beard that I’ve ever had.”

He decided to do the big beard when he started school because it allowed him the space to go through the in-between stages where it didn’t look very good. It’s taken him 2 years to get it all filled in to the point that he likes it.

“Did the fact that it’s in fashion influence your decision?” you ask.

“That certainly helps. It’s a reflection of the style era we’re in. In the 90’s the Van Dyke or the goatee with the mustache was big, especially, among brothers. If you still have one now it’s two decades old. This stuff is cyclical. The full beard is a classic look that men can pull off.”

On whether he will cut it off he says he expects it to be around at least another 4-5 years, if not longer. It’s a question he had to answer recently when a woman he knows was telling him that she doesn’t know what he really looks like.

He told her, “This is exactly what I look like. Being clean-shaven isn’t natural. It’s a cultural trend. This is the real me.”

Score 1 for cultural trend.

Man. When you look at it like that men are walking around unnatural. You can’t help but draw a parallel between black women and the natural hair movement. At some point you get tired of fighting against your natural self. At some point, the cultural trend becomes so great that it’s hard not to jump in. That’s how you see the big beard. It’s a cultural trend and for some it gets deep. Really, to each his own. As long as men are happy.

But, at the same time, we can’t dismiss that when styles change we’re left having to deal with the new new. So ladies, how do we really feel about it? Do we like the big beard? Opinions vary. One woman you spoke to who married a big beard says, “I love a man with a nice full beard and mustache because it makes him look stronger, sexier and I feel more secure.” Another says that she likes a little stubble because she still associates a bigger beard with older men like Kenny Rogers. Personally, you like a big beard to a certain point. When it starts getting all Duck Dynasty it’s reached that point.

That said, ladies, what do you think?

Yay or nay to the big beard?

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a social commentary blog. Before that she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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