First, a disclaimer. I don’t often get jealous of how other men look. My bouts of burning appearance-based envy are few and far between.
This isn’t down to vanity, or because I ever think I look particularly good. It’s because I never go outside, and so I barely see anyone to actually be jealous of. Except the postman, obviously. Curse you postman, and your beautiful paunch. That said, MY GOD I HATE GEORGE CLOONEY.
I hate him. I hate him with the intensity of a thousand collapsing galaxies. Why? Because he’s a millionaire filmstar? No. Because he used to go out with the woman off the biscuit adverts? No. I hate George Clooney because of his bloody BEARD.
I mean, did you SEE him at the BAFTAs last week? Jesus Christ, can that man grow a beard. It was this great big thick, full, luxurious mottled grey thing. It looked as if someone had stapled a giant persian cat to his face right before he left the hotel. It looked like it was made out mink and dandelion fluff and make-believe. It looked as if he grew it in about a week. It was beautiful.
Now, all the pictures of George Clooney at the BAFTAs are copyrighted, and everyone at XOJane is a terrible skinflint, so I’ve had to draw a picture of his beard for you:
See? Can you SEE how amazing that beard is? I would commit crimes up to and including matricide to have a beard like that. I don’t expect you to understand because this is a website for women, but I’ll try and put it into context.
Not being able to grow a beard as good as George Clooney’s is roughly as painful as childbirth, periods, legwaxing and repeatedly hitting your head on the glass ceiling combined. It is AGONY.
I know this only too well, because I’ve just embarked upon a fruitless beard-growing endeavour myself. At the beginning of the year, partly inspired by the cold weather and partly because the razor was all the way over there, I made the decision to stop shaving.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried this – one effort in 2008 came to an abrupt end after a friend greeted me with the word ‘No’, and another sort of happened by accident two years ago after a break-up - but this was going to be different. This time I was going to wake up one morning to find myself looking as simultaneously suave and authoritative as George Clooney at the BAFTAs. Yeah, didn’t happen.
The reasons why I stopped having a beard in 2013 are exactly the same as the reasons why I stopped having a beard in 2008 and 2011. First, there is the colour of my hair. Blond men, as a rule, should generally avoid the whole beard thing. For starters, your hair is basically the same colour as your skin, and any attempts to grow a beard will generally look to the casual observer as if you’ve been struck down by a sudden attack of face-tumours.
When you see Clooney in the street, your first automatic thought is “Ooh, beard!”. When you see me in the street, your first automatic thought is concern that the council has erected a leper colony near where you live without adhering to the proper consultation period. And then the fucking thing goes GINGER.
Eventually a note of equilibrium is reached, where your beard is a) identifiably a beard and b) very slightly less ginger. Congratulations! You now either look like Noel Edmonds, Spencer Pratt or, as everyone on Twitter delighted in telling me during the dying days of January, the world’s shittest folk singer.
Then there’s the discomfort. After a while, having a beard feels like your face has scaled over. Whenever you open your mouth, you can feel all the hairs scraping together in different directions like the inside of a medieval lock. Your top lip basically becomes an abomination - the hairs at the bottom curl down into your mouth and the hairs at the top worm upwards into your nostrils while you sleep.
Your neck gets so itchy that you’re constantly in danger of slitting your own throat with your fingernails. And all you can ever talk or think about is your beard. You essentially turn into a woman on a diet, and god knows it doesn’t get much worse than that.
You can guarantee that throughout the BAFTAs – even the bit where Anne Hathaway hugged him – the only thing that went through George Clooney’s mind for the entire evening was “AAAAAAARGH this fucking thing is so fucking ITCHY! WHY did I ever bother growing this bastard? ITCHYITCHYITCHYITCHYITCHY. It itches my FACE. My beautiful FACE!”.
But the difference between George Clooney and me is that he’s man enough to live with the agony of the beard. To my eternal shame, I’m not. That’s the only difference between George Clooney and me. The only one. Shut up.
Tell Stuart he looks like the world's shittest folk singer @stuheritage.