On Living With Beard Envy » VSB


***Watching James Harden in the playoffs has reminded me of a deep, dark secret I harbor: beard envy. Because of this, I’ve decided to revise and repost a piece explaining exactly why exquisitely bearded brothas make me so jealous.***

God blessed me with an abundance of gifts.

An abnormally large and egg shaped head that can be used as a weapon if I’m ever attacked by an ostrich. The ability to effortlessly create haikus using only different euphemisms for “vagina.” A voice that subtlety reminds people that I probably scored higher on the PSAT than they did. Spicy farts. Skin dark enough to scare White people at night, but not dark enough to dissuade them from asking me for directions during the day. Completely irrational athletic ability. A decidedly utilitarian smirk that makes Dominican women want to wrestle. A penis the exact same color as my eyes. A “Hmm. Maybe he can grow on me or something“-able face.

Yet, despite these gifts, I’m completely overcome with envy whenever I see a picture of Common or James Harden or Black Thought or even Flo Rida. Why? Well, those motherf*ckers can grow completely full beards, a task I dearly want to be able to accomplish.

Now, this isn’t to say that my beard game is completely in the toilet. As seen here, if the angle is right and the lighting is proper, I can fool people into thinking I have a laudable beard. (And I also take very contrived Linkedin profile pictures.) Basically, Paul Pierce I am not.

But, although I’d never want to pull one of those Rick Ross full-face beards, I’m completely disheartened by the fact that I’ll never even have the ability to do that; a realization that has occasionally induced Pope-ish lip-quivers, shower wall slides, and enough tears to fill a half gallon bowl of Cheerios.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why I envy the beard so much. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy food so much that I know I’d love scouring my beard for random scraps of bacon if I got hungry. Maybe I secretly wish I was a Blaxploitation star, using my beard of virility to save sassy women from jive turkeys, rampant pimps, and wack orgasms. And, well, maybe I just think I kind of look like a very handsome monkey when I’m completely clean-shaving, and a perpetually full beard will help me look less primate.

Who knows?

I do know, though, that although I don’t really believe it when old men say things like “You know, if you splash some urine on your face, it’ll make your beard grow fuller,” I don’t not believe if enough to never try it. (And by “never try it” I mean “not try it as soon as I’m done writing this“)

Anyway, can anyone relate to my beard envy? Are there any qualities or characteristics you always wished you had, but God obviously had other plans?

—Damon Young

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • I too have a great beard envy, but I’ve grown to accept that a beard probably wouldn’t match my face/features. I’d still like the ability to grow one be able to determine that for myself though! One quality I wish I had was being able to write/draw with my left hand considering I’m left-hand dominate at absolutely everything EXCEPT writing. It drives me absolutely insane.

    • Amethyst

      Just like me.

      (I don’t rem any of this, I was told the story by my Mum):

      Apparently when I started writing as a wee lass, I wrote with my left hand. My nursery school teacher decided that was ‘bad’ and started to convince/cajole/make? me write with my right hand. by the time my Mama found out and told her to leave me tha h*ll alone, I had become used to writing with my right.

      However, that didn’t fully re-wire me, lol, so I am left-hand dominate at EVERYTHING else, and over the years I’ve had people ask me why i’m doing something or the other with my left hand. My response is usually, cos that’s where it makes the most sense.

      So yeah, for a while when I was younger, I used to have envy for those left handed writing folks, loooll. My little 10 year old self would think “That is so cool. And I had that! I had it! Save for that silly a** nursery school teacher!”

      Thankfully, I have since found other things to care about.

    • I’m ambidextrous but wish i drew better with my right, the smudging struggle be too real #leftylosingrightytighty

    • h.h.h.

      i have no idea whether i can grow a beard like in the picture, due to the fact that i have no patience for hair growth…and if anything, i let it grow in the winter (to keep my face warm)…i’d probably look dope with a beard too but meh #NoInterest

      i always wanted to write lefty, and be as close to ambidextrous as possible.

      you heard the Boondocks mixtape?

      • Not yet. I’ll give it a listen Saturday.

  • *boooo moderation

  • I have b0.ob envy 80% of the time. Itty bitties are cool sometimes. I can go out without a bra and no one would be the wiser. However, sometimes enourmous b0.obs just make clothes look better. I be hating on the DD having ladies.

    • cryssi

      See and I have perky t!tty envy….I wish I could wear backless dresses and no bra without my funbags getting into a fight with each other… But big boobs come from both sides of my family tree, God just didn’t see fit too give me that freedom.

      I also have skinny weed head envy. I don’t wish to get high, but I do wish to eat all the time and never get fat.

    • Msdebbs

      “I be hating on the DD having ladies.” You aint missing nothing….TRUST me.

      • I am though! I can’t ever wear strapless gowns, I’ll never enjoy cleavage or the illusion of cleavage, idk how I’ll br3astfeed in 10 years….

        • Msdebbs

          tigobitties are heavy and its hard to fit em in strapless dresses and don’t get me started on the impossible task of finding a good bra.

          • Ok I am not jealous of the fact that y’all have ugly grandmaw bras to choose from at semi-decent prices. Y’all can keep em.

          • Sahel


          • Amethyst

            You know, i’ve heard so many of my big bewb-ed sistren talk about the weight of their girls, but I have never felt like my twins were heavy, despite their size. Impromptu running without a bra on is near suicidal, but I’ve just never felt they were heavy.

            So just wondering, do you feel the weight from the front? Or does it manifest as back pain?

          • Boo Radley

            Cacique and Top Drawer. Just bite the bullet and pay. It’s so worth it.

          • afronica

            For an everyday, t-shirt bra, I swear by the Dominique 7000 (http://www.barenecessities.com/dominique-seamless-minimizer-bra-7000_product.htm?pf_id=Dominique7000&search= ). I also like the Glamorise 1245 front-close bra and like other Glamorise styles. I’ve also had a lot of luck with Wacoal. None of them are really cheap unless they’re on sale, but they are worth the cost.

        • LMNOP

          Shoot I can’t wear strapless gowns either, because a bra with straps is not optional for me.

          Actually, who CAN wear these dresses and do they just use duct tape or something?

          • They do sell tape for that. You have to hunt for it a bit online, but I’ve seen it used to keep the puppies in place for strapless gowns.

            • LMNOP

              I like that you know this Todd.

              • When you have run in as many circles as I have over the years, you pick up interesting factoids like this. I’m not smart as much as I am willing to talk to *anyone* for at least 10 minutes. LOL My ex worked in plus-sized fashion for a while, and they swear by that stuff.

        • Sahel

          Do a Kelly Rowland

          • I don’t have the funds for that and I honestly don’t feel like cosmetic surgery is for me.

            • Asiyah


        • LMNOP

          Your bewbs will like triple in size when they are full of milk though. God’s not trying to starve the babies of itty bitty mommies.

          • I think pregnancy is something that will eventually appeal to me solely for the fact that I’ll finally have a real reason to wear a bra.

    • Amethyst

      Embrace your itty bitties girl…these DD’s are just tooo much sometimes. I officially gave up on trying to find a ‘good’ strapless bra on December 24th, 2006. Button up shirts are the enemy, an outfit/top can look real trashy real quick with these fun bags and lastly I wonder what will happen during pregnancy when they will blow up even more, egad. The grass ain’t greener AP, nope it ain’t.

      Having said that though….I do love my bewbs, lol, they are my bosom buddies (pun intended). But I definitely wish I could enjoy some strictly itty bitty fashion choices that are forever closed to me…and once in a daggone while not have to wear an industrial strength bra.

      • Hey, I like the trashy look. Then again, I prefer sexy to beautiful so *kanyeshrug*

        • Sahel

          Sexy to beautiful, so her face matters not as long as her body is 50.cal

          • I’ll put it to you like this: if you gave me a choice between Lupita Nyongo and Jada Fire, I’m taking Jada Fire every day and twice on Sundays with no shame. Good girls scare me. I’m always wondering what their hustle is.

            • Sahel

              Good girls, mostly end up being accountants. But remember the old saying, once she goes bad, shes gone forever

              • LeeLee

                “Good girls, mostly end up being accountants.”

                I’m terrible at math, but what about librarians? I’m not one, but if I had to do it all again, I would be.

                • Sahel

                  Just how good are you, , there are levels to this ish

            • LeeLee

              “Good girls scare me. I’m always wondering what their hustle is.”

              As a life-long good girl, I find this to be true about men. I’m nothing to be afraid of. Unless you do me wrong………..*gives evil laugh and rides away on my invisible broom*

              • Maybe you’re onto something. I tripped and stumbled onto an innocent recently, and I am completely confused. Wait…you can do all of that in bed and not be completely jaded? And want to do things like cook for a man and be a stay at home wife? I couldn’t believe it. My mind was blown.

              • Asiyah


            • h.h.h.

              . Good girls scare me. I’m always wondering what their hustle is.

              send ’em my way then… #GoodGuyOverHurrrr

              • Man up weakling! You can handle the wild girl. :)

                • h.h.h.

                  nah, i’mma handle these burgers tho…lol

                • Boo Radley

                  Who says the two are mutually exclusive? I resent the very notion.

              • Asiyah

                awwww! I love you, Jughead! <3

            • Asiyah

              Good girls have no hustle! Hence, why they’re single most of the time lol

              • Allow me to teach you a few things about hustle. ;-)

      • Sahel


        • Amethyst


      • Lea Thrace

        RIP to the button up. Haven’t had one in my wardrobe since middle school. Same with tube tops and anything that doesn’t have straps.

        *Single tear rolling down my face*

        • Wear them with pride woman! :) I love that look.

    • LMNOP

      I have bo0.bs and I’m not going to lie, they’re great, yeah you have to wear a bra all the time and avoid unplanned running, but small price to pay.

      But your old avi gave me some serious azz envy. You can’t win em all.

      • Amethyst

        Lol, cosign. Just typed something on impromptu running as well, somewhere upthread.

    • Did you get the picture?

      • As soon as I pass my morning bowel I’ll let you know

        • Val

          *wonders if AP swallowed the picture?*

    • Asiyah

      I, too, have boob envy. I hate being flat. I just want to be a B-cup or something. Come on!

  • Teamnoneck

    I have a obsession with obnoxiously large earrings with a very short neck. It is a tragedy.

  • anon in CA

    I envy women who have nice shapely legs. I would never wear pants if I had the legs I desired.

    • Sahel

      Yeah, I prefer women in no pants too

      • LMNOP

        Oh Sahel…

  • ratchet d-Ibaka

    My nails. I like long nails, but these hoez ain’t loyal. They be stunted as the phakk.

    Speaking of which, OK mothaphakkin C! Phakk you! These idjots had my blood pressha at an all time high!

    They started playing with vim
    in the 4th quarter, with only 5 minutes left to spare! The same gusto they displayed in those 5mins should have been established in the 1st quarter. Again, phakk ya’ll for making me soooooooo very angry! Ibaka, Keri ain’t paying you! Sooooo, abeg play like you have in the past, rough!

    My support and love for the Houston Rockets is based on superficialness. I like them because of Harden’s beard, not because I think they are particularly good. I don’t even know the rest of his teammates. All this to say, beards rock, but not if you look like Flava Flave.

    Val, heYYYY! You’ve been on fire this week

    • Val

      Hiya, African Mami!

      *waving wildly*

      Thanks. :-) Missed you around here.

      • Sahel

        Smh, attention seeker

    • Asiyah

      MAMI! <3

  • I have extreme beard envy. It’s not cool to be 25 and can still possibly pass for a high schooler. But really I just wanna do this.

    • 25? Pshaw! I remember living in my old White town, visiting a garage sale with my then wife and being asked if I played basketball for the local HS team…at the age of 29. *smh*

      • Lmao that’s crazy, and will probably be me too

    • You ever been on a date and you get carded and she don’t….life ain’t fair.

      • LMNOP

        My mom sent me into buy lottery tickets when I was 23 and about 8 months pregnant. I didn’t have id on me so they wouldn’t sell them to me. And my mom got all pissed, and said if I really was 16 and about to have a baby, obviously I need a lottery win. That was embarrassing though.

        • I would understand cigarettes but lottery, sheesh

      • Haha #SadStory

  • Jay

    Yup… beard envy all day. Having a full beard is one surefire way to make your face look waaay more masculine, and a goatee just ain’t quite the same. My dad could grow a full beard and looked awesome with it. It is like the carrot on a stick for me; I can grow about a 71% full beard… which falls just short of passable. Dudes who can grow full beards do it so effortlessly that there is absolutely NO good, reliable advice out there that helps the rest of us. It’s all “don’t give up” and “just let it grow” when it’s obviously one of those “either you can or you can’t” things.

    • *to the tune of Frozen’s “Let it Go”


      • Jay

        The problem with the whole “let it grow” line of advice is that IT TAKES FOREVER and it looks like $hit while its “growing”. The whole time you tell yourself that the spotty parts will fill on or that it will get thicker where you know it won’t… because it won’t. This is what happens when I try to grow a beard. The lack of color in the pic almost hides the flaws but if you look you can see that the hair on my cheeks is comically thinner than my goatee. Face, why dost thou mocketh me??

        • I mean, your face is doing it for me. It could be worse. You could have no facial hair at all. Chin up ;-)

        • Rog

          You could always take the sharpie route

          • Thou shalt not go Boozer face

            • NomadaNare

              GLASS IT FROM ORBIT!

            • hanbonanza

              This should be made the 11th commandment. 12th is thou shalt not create a jawline out of facial hair where thou hast none


              13th: Doest not whatever it is that this guy has done. *home alone scream*


              • WIP


              • Lea Thrace

                This elicited a very loud “dafuq!” from me.

                • hanbonanza

                  Funny thing about the second one, I got messaged on a dating site one time by a guy with this picture, and that was my exact reaction lol.

                  Then when I go to search for the beard I was talking about above, his is the first pic that pops up! Either he’s messaged loads of people & been put on blast by someone else, or the guy that messaged me was using this guys picture for some inexplicable reason. I mean, dafuq! lol

            • WIP

              it looks ok though…

          • NomadaNare

            KILL IT WITH FIRE!

        • The goatee is fine man. Some of us can’t even get a third of a way to that.

          • The fauxtee struggle is real, my mustache and beard want to connect but just missing out like the Cowboys and the playoffs


            • h.h.h.

              my mustache and beard want to connect but just missing out like the Cowboys and the playoffs

              i just got this to connect last year…i was like


        • LMNOP

          So I know nothing about beards in particular, but a healthy diet and plenty of water helps hair grow, and one of the hardest parts of growing hair out is that it breaks, maybe you could use conditioner to keep it from tangling, and I guess you have to get it pretty long already before you’d be worrying about protective styling.

          • Asiyah

            yes! water! wash that face, guys.

            • LMNOP

              And drinking more water too.

        • hanbonanza

          Nah, this beard is a good look on you. The whole lower face submersion thing is overrated anyway. As is over manicured facial hair imo. What you got is a forever low-maintenance, manly but smooth, good-looking goatee going on here. Turn that frown upside down lol

        • hanbonanza

          Plus, this picture is giving me Marvin Gaye



          nothing wrong with that beard. + 100 points, very good look

          • 321mena123

            Marvin Gaye was just fine. Clean looking, unkept looking, it didn’t matter.

            • hanbonanza

              Agreed! Have you seen that Soul Train episode where he performs Distant Lover & Let’s Get It on & the girls are just falling apart? I would have been one of those girls lol

        • Amethyst

          You are a-okay Jay.

        • 321mena123

          You look grown and nice.

        • LMNOP

          I think really that is plenty of beard already.

        • Agatha Guilluame

          *looks at avi* *looks at bearded pic* *looks at avi* *looks at bearded pic* *looks at avi* *looks at bearded pic*

          I think we’re not addressing the real issue…

          • Jay

            I don’t follow.

            • Agatha Guilluame

              Dammit Jay, you’re beautiful.

            • b sweet

              I think @agathaguilluame:disqus means you’re using the wrong avi. It doesn’t do you justice.

        • Avion

          I’m not sure if I am looking at a picture of a struggle beard or a thirst trap.

      • LMNOP

        I was reading this post and how it’s a REpost from years ago and the whole time in my head was singing “let it go, let it go, that perfect beard is gone. Your wife don’t care about it any way, so let it go, LET IT GO! A clean shave never bothered me anyway.”

        • Yeah i remember a similar post here

        • LOL. I would like a clean shave, but being in a line of work where the mindset is “don’t trust anyone under 30” (and I like being able to make a living at something other than low-wage service economy jobs), this beard might just have to work.

          • LMNOP

            I feel your pain, I’m a young looking 31 and it’s killing me in the job market, and just generally in life people treat me like I’m 24. If there was a simple fix for that I’d be all over it.

            • Sahel

              Show me

              • LMNOP

                If I put up a picture of myself trying to look “old” would disqus let me delete it half an hour later when I get paranoid?

            • What Sahel said…

          • I look 16 and there’s nothing women can do to age themselves :-( Apparently this will be an advantage to me when I’m 45+ but I don’t care about that right now. Another reason why bewbs would be advantageous to me. It’d make me look like an adult instead of a preteen -____-

  • Msdebbs

    I wish I had a good singing voice….I’d sing background for EVERYBODY. And I wish I had smaller boobies so I wouldn’t have to wear a bra all the dang time.

    • #juglife

    • Sahel

      Hard knock life

  • LehcarB

    ‘Loc envy. I only been at it a short time (10 months) but although it’s growing it’s still not completely loc’d. Apparently it’s my hair grade.

    • Kema

      *flips locs* I’m 4 years in but I remember that first year. Its a lesson in patience.

      • LehcarB

        You right about the patience. I know other people who started the same way and time I did,yet they’re flourishing.Bastards.

More Like This