Senator Ricky Muir. Photo: The New Daily
It seems beards and politics have been mixed together to make a delicious facial hair cocktail of a story in the press this week. First we have an article in the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that Australian Beard and Moustache champion David White has officially endorsed recently-elected Senator Ricky Muir's decision to keep his goatee. Mr White, who incidentally has a text book Santa Claus beard that would make most bearded men blush with envy, was quoted as saying "we need the real men with facial hair to sort things out, for far too long the clean shaven have run this country!".
An interesting point. Politics aside, the article does highlight some examples of prejudice against beards and peer pressure that is common in politics and a number of white collar professions. It notes a couple of shameful examples of statements made by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard against Rob Oakeshott and Dennis Shanahan for their decisions to grow beards over the summer break.
In one case she described their decisions as "very poor judgement calls". Could you imagine the outrage if someone had described Ms Gillard's hair, clothes or body type in similar pejorative terms? Such is the prevailing hypocrisy and conservatism that remains in many parts of society when the issue of beards comes up. We congratulate Ricky, not just for sporting a beard, but for standing up for who he is as a person and the decisions he's made to present the way he does in the face of what is likely to be ongoing pressure to ditch the facial hair. People voted for him just the way he is and that should be respected.
Over to the UK and in a similar vein, the Daily Mail reported that new Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb was the first Conservative Party member to sport a beard since 1905. That was a very long time ago and the change of pace must be applauded. It's staggering to think how such a level of sameness could persist for so long. Again, Mr Crabb should be applauded for thinking outside the hair... I mean, square.