Turns out, there was absolutely no reason to skulk about. Everyone is welcome at BMC meetings, facial hair not required! Their mission statement reads as follows:
A community of men and women who promote and educate the accolades of beards and moustaches while supporting those less fortunate in growth and in luck.While a good amount of fun is always on the agenda at the monthly meetings, there is also a good amount of fundraising and community service work mixed in. This year, the Charlotte club is raising money for charity Beards BeCAUSE, a grass roots non-profit organization founded in 2007 to advocate against domestic violence while raising much needed funding for local abuse shelters. At this particular BMC meeting, they were rounding up volunteers to help cook and serve a holiday meal at one of the local shelters. They only had to ask once and all the spots were immediately filled.
Beyond the fundraising and monthly merriment, the BMC of NC members also participate in Beard and Moustache competitions, which also help raise money for charities! For example, the two NC Chapters of The BMC (Charlotte and Greensboro) combined to take home 6 awards from Beardtoberfest in Fayetteville, NC, a contest raising money for The Blood and Cancer Clinic! If you get the chance, I would highly recommend attending a local or regional contest. And, if at all possible, I bet the Beard and Moustache World Championships would be an amazing event to attend! In 2014, they will be held in Portland, Oregon!
Since I am no expert in this field, I made sure to spend a little time with Charlotte chapter board member Austin Caine. He was kind enough to sit down and thoroughly answer some questions.
Q: How did you get hooked up with charity Beards Because?
AC: Beards BeCAUSE is founded and run by one of our core members, and a member of our board of directors, Jared Yerg. When he came on board is when we connected to their organization.
Q: Is it Mustache or Moustache? And what is the difference?
AC: Those without a proper moustache call it a "mustache." In actuality it's simply a difference in American vs. Brittish English much like "color" and "colour."
Q: Can you briefly break down the various categories offered at Beard and Moustache competitions?
AC: That actually varies a little bit based on region and competition but in general there are the main categories of Moustache, Partial Beard, Full Beard, possibly some others like Female beard (created not grown!) and Trend beards (which are the super close cut kind with designs in them). They then divide into sub-categories based on how the hair is connected and/or styled.
For example the Moustache category only contains moustache styles, no beards allowed. If a competitor has both a beard and a moustache, it will fall under Full or Partial Beard depending on the beard attached. Moustaches can then be Natural, with no products used, or Styled, where products like pomade and wax are used to create further substyles such as "Dali, English, Imperial, Hungarian, etc." The names refer to the thickness, length, and curl styles used.
The Beard categories get even deeper like the Full Beards category which is then divided into subcategories based on length! The partial beard categories include such favorites as the Goatee, the Donegal (Abe Lincoln's beard style), Mutton Chops, the Fu Man Chu, and the Musketeer (long moustache and a small pointed beard), among many many more!
Then the best part is the Female Beard category though! And by that I mean beards they make, not grow haha! That usually splits into two fields: Natural and Creative. Natural is when they try to emulate a real beard and make it look as natural as possible. The Creative category is the most fun, where the ladies get to make beards out of anything they want. One great example was a girl I saw at a competition dressed as an Elmer Fudd-esque hunter with a beard made of shotgun shells! Or the girl scout with the beard made of Samoa cookies!
Regardless though you will always see a huge variety of follicle styles at these competitions and it's always so much fun to see!
Q: You lovingly describe Beard & Moustache competitions as "man pageants." What's the funniest thing that has happened to you while competing?
AC: I think the funniest/coolest thing I've seen at a competition was the Blue Moon! This man had shaped his long hair and long beard into a giant crescent moon and dyed or sprayed it all blue, including his face. He ran around with sunglasses on and looked like some kind of awesome blues singer's act poster characature come to life!
Q: What kind of advice can you give a beard growing newby?
AC: Advice for newbies... It's hair. Shampoo and conditioner are vital! Also, using an oil such as coconut will keep it super soft and very shiny. And lastly, get regular trims to keep it shaped up nicely so you don't look homeless! But be sure to go to a barber with beard experience do not just trust your hairdresser friend with it. These things do not grow like hair on our heads.
-Visit BMC of NC on Facebook!
-Top photo by Austin Caine.