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Kevin Smith shaves, fans freak: What beards say about the men who wear them

Actor and director Kevin Smith removed his beard, and almost simultaneously the winner of the 2014 World Beard Championships was announced. Time to take the societal pulse of facial hair? 

 On the razor’s edge of No-Shave November, just days after the World Beard Championship, director Kevin Smith has decided to go with full facial nudity in order to transform his usual rough and gruff look into a boyishly goofy facade for an upcoming film role.

"Look at this goofy spaz. This is me, beardless, for the #YogaHosers green screen shoot. It's a Face-Brazilian," Smith posted on Facebook Monday.

“YogaHosers” is the second film in Smith's "True North" trilogy – a follow-up to "Tusk." Johnny Depp and Kevin Smith will both appear in the film with their daughters.

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If Smith’s goal was to play on the public’s natural association of being clean-shaven with youth he hit the mark. He now looks as if someone should be checking to see if he’s tall enough get on the rides at a theme park.

Beard styling – and stereotypes – may say a lot (or nothing) about who we perceive a bearded man to be.

For example, in the post 911 decade, a full, untrimmed religious-looking beard (think Moses and Muhammad) may guarantee a traveler in an airport will be pulled from the sea of men to be double- and triple-checked by security agents. 

According to a 2012 article in the magazine The National, “long beards” have played a feature role in films and on TV as indicators of terrorists or bad guys in the post-911 age. 

On the lighter side, lately a goatee brands a guy as a Hipster. The meticulously crafted chinstrap beard may imply the wearer may just spend too much time with his mirror, clippers and ego.

A soul patch dribbling from bottom lip to chin is the mark of today’s rebel – think speed skating champ Apolo Ohno. The man had “Oh no” in his name already, but would media have so swiftly marked him an Olympic rebel if he weren’t the only tuft of fuzz in a sea of clean-shaven faces?

Those who can’t grow a beard (women mainly) have even begun a social media trend to pay homage to facial fur by using their feline companions held under their nose as a “catbeard.” (Yes, the Internet has another way to display cats.)

After being shorn, Smith has lost his visual gravitas, mocking menace and likeable outcast fans have come to know. All have been replaced by a baby-faced guy who, looks like he’d be found on a yoga mat in an upscale meditation center in Beverly Hills, rather than a mountain top.

Interestingly, the competitors in the Just for Men World Beard & Moustache Championships, Portland, ranged from looking like the old Kevin Smith to something out of a Comic Con steampunk costumed character entry with sculpted and curlicued facial fronds.The winner, Madison Rowley, of Portland, Ore. may not share the bearded brotherhood with Smith at the moment but he is a cinematographer – so they have film in common.

Rowley rocked what some may call the ancient school look of a bushy-bearded Old Testament-style Biblical character, only with a short-cropped haircut.

While Rowley won the day he may have been fortunate that the competition took place in his town so he was not required to get past airport security.

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