Don’t fear the beard
Though Aaron Stone has always had a love of mayonnaise, lately the condiment has become a real nuisance in his life.
“It just gets all stuck in my beard,” he said. “That and soups, it’s just becomes a real mess.”
President of the Dixie Beard and Moustache Society, Stone started the Waynesville club this past March after watching the television show “Whisker Wars” with his wife.
“At first, we kind of joked that we should put together our own club,” he said. “When we looked into it more, we wondered why there wasn’t a club already. Facial hair is a huge part of our heritage in Western North Carolina, and we want to keep that tradition alive.”
What started haphazardly as a casual thing to get a handful of friends together has now grown into a bona fide nonprofit. The group not only aims to help the community, but they also have competed nationally in facial hair competitions — Stone placed fifth recently in the “groomed” category at the Southern Championships — and rubbing shoulders with the innumerable other clubs scattered across the world in the process.
“DBMS is open to everyone. Men, women, young, old, big hillbilly beards or no facial hair at all, we welcome all,” Stone said. “Our members range from sixth generation Haywood County natives to recent ‘transplants’ from as far away as Maine, all sorts of backgrounds and occupations, from those who are retired to the world’s youngest club member, as far as we know, 13-year-old Walker Smathers. There are no membership fees or dues.”
Growing a beard as a teenager due in part “to laziness and the fact I hate shaving,” Stone soon began to look at facial hair as more of a hobby and identity.
“I’ve kept a full beard for the past 10 years or so, only shaving it once in that time, about five years ago. I didn’t even recognize myself, and many friends didn’t either,” he said. “There comes a point when a beard, or a distinctive moustache or mutton chops, becomes a part of that person so to speak, like eyeglasses or tattoos. Without a full beard, it’s just not me.”
So, what’s the biggest misconception with beards?
“That they’re dirty and smelly,” said Tracy Orr, secretary of DBMS. “People need to get over it; girls need to get over it. Beards are great. My father has had one his entire life. I don’t know if I’d recognize him without it.”
Orr proudly represents the female side of the DBMS equation. With a rather large chuck of the club membership, the women compete in competitions as well, creating their own beards and moustaches out of wigs, fabric and even bottle caps.
Though he has always been clean-shaven, DBMS member J.R. Orr (Tracy’s husband) got involved with the club and now sports a goatee.
“I never could grow a beard. It’d always come in patches,” he chuckled. “But, I have this goatee now. I like that I’ve made a lot of new friends, and we are able to do great things for the community.”
Stone looks at the organization as a way to lead the crusade in making the world more aware of the art, history and passion that is associated with facial hair.
“Corporate America wants all these clean-shaven, suit and tie, cookie cutter men. Those who have chosen not to succumb to this, especially in regards to facial hair or dress, have been labeled as ‘bad guys’, ‘outlaws’ or ‘undesirable’,” he said. “The founding members of the club have been disgusted by this for years and saw the DBMS as a way to celebrate, and hopefully rekindle, all those qualities that make the true Southern Gentleman, which is honorable, proud, humble, courteous, rugged and respectful individuals. Whether it be sporting a big beard and wearing overalls, opening the door for a lady, saying ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir’, we see the club as a way to fight back against our culture’s demasculinization of modern man.”
Aligning with the charity “Warrior Service Dogs”, which trains dogs to give to veterans, DBMS sees it as a great partnership in helping those who have already helped us.
“The veterans gave so much for our country and we felt that Warrior Service Dogs was perfect for us to team up with and donate to,” Stone said.
Stone is optimistic about the future of DBMS. Besides their numerous get-togethers and fundraisers, there are already plans in the works to compete in the world championships in Germany next year. With membership doubling (around 40 members) since its inception, the club will continue to meet every first Sunday of the month at 5 p.m. The meetings are held at a different spot each time, in an effort to spread word of the club and to share in supporting businesses around Waynesville.
“All we require is a love of facial hair in all its forms, the desire to give back to our local community and those in need,” he said. “We encourage those who love the camaraderie and sharing of good times with family and friends.”
Dixie Beard & Moustache Society Mission Statement
• To foster camaraderie and good times amongst those who believe in upholding our longstanding Southern traditions, including the beard and moustache.
• To fight the indoctrination and demasculinization of the modern man, rekindling all that is the Southern Gentleman.
• To educate and encourage acceptance of all types of facial hair in the workplace and society in general.
• To promote and raise funds for local charities that make a positive and direct impact on our community here in the mountains.
For more information, click on DixieBeardMoustacheSociety.com or Facebook.com/DixieBeardMoustacheClub. The next club meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2, at the Water’n Hole in Waynesville. All meetings are free and open to the public.