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There’s a Person Under This Beard

So I have a beard. No, I had a beard. Let me explain. I play around with my facial hair. It’s a way for me to change it up and have a good time. Girls do things with their hair. I recently heard the term “side bangs”. Me, I like to change it up on my face from time to time.

While I enjoy sporting my mustache in different manners, I decided to grow my beard back out. Being as I am a Persian man, and I have more hair on my buttocks than most people on their head, before the week’s end I was looking like the Oxi clean guy.

oxi That’s when the recurring issue happened every time I grow my beard.

“You look like a terrorist.” In a span of about 21 days, I heard dozens of alterations of that sentence.

“You look dangerous,” 

“You look scary,”

“You look like you’re going to blow something up.”

I tell you it is non-conditional.

My friend, who happens to be sefeed (Trans: vaait. Trans: white) also has a pretty thick set beard. What comments does he get?

“Sick beard bro!” “You look like a lumberjack!” “What a hipster beard”.

I asked him what’s the worst thing someone told you. He said someone told him he looked like a “bum.”

beard

Now there are two reasons why this upsets me:

The first, because I can grow a fantastic beard. It isn’t patchy. It isn’t stringy. It’s coarse and full of body. You can trim it and it looks gorgeous. I’ve been complimented by girls, who like beards, and one gay older man.

The second reason is that people are saying I look like a “terrorist”. I hate how that term is thrown around. I hear it at work, I hear it at soccer (how Persian), I hear it from friends. It’s supposed to be some sort of colloquial buddy term that people use to show how they can joke around with you. Sefeed guy at work says I look like a terrorist. I tell him he looks like an imperialist. He didn’t get it.

In a way I can’t blame these people. They’ve been indoctrinated.

However, I don’t wish to create a platform for the debate on the word. It always leads to senseless hate from all sides of the spectrum.

murder

What I wish to say is how it has taken on a life of its own. I am an extremely difficult person to insult, but calling me a “terrorist” is just in poor taste.

You’re acknowledging a prejudice.

I’ve never called an Irishman a terrorist (IRA). Nor have I ever thrown that term at a French Canadian (FLQ). But for some reason not only does the beard mean I fit the “description”, I’m supposed to laugh because we’re just a couple of guys having fun. No, it isn’t fun. No, I will not laugh with you.

Do me a favor, call me a bum.

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BeardedMAN,

NIMA نیما
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Comments

  1. Dariush! says:

    I like to try different looks and genuinely feel my beard adds variety to my look, hearing I look like a Osama’s brother is just a WTF the moment! I play soccer in Germany and I am Canadian born and the only thing that seems to transgress our lack of common language is the word Terrorist. I find it shocking and disgusting that in a country where I do not share the same language that this is a thought shared by sefeeds. Mind you this country is an uglier version of the generalizations received in Canada. While in Canada it may be a little bit on a joke side I have literally heard insults from German men young and old during my matches as to how I am terrorist and foreigner endangering them. Our coach is Iranian and we played a small village team and the mayor of the town even began insulting our coach during the game. his answer was ” i dont know if you guys heard but Hitler is dead everyone is equals now”,

  2. Dariush! says:

    Canadian born Iranian correction!

  3. Iranian-American says:

    Sometimes I wish posts on S&F had a like button because I enjoyed reading this but I don’t have much to add in terms of a comment. I wanted to write one though because I had commented (perhaps too harshly) on your previous post a few weeks (months?) ago. I think that must be a hard thing with blogging–you don’t hear all that much from your audience unless they feel strongly about the subject or the post. Most of the time, posts are good and interesting, but, for readers, there’s not a way of communicating that. On the receiving end as bloggers, you only see the really good and the really bad reactions people have to what you write. I hope this comment is reassuring that we (I) enjoy hearing your opinions, even though I may on occasion disagree.

  4. BUM!

  5. Nima bro, I’m really sorry about the wayyyy you feeel about this! I’m pretty sure every persian guy living among more whites than his own kind feel this way! Well I have a solution for you!
    You see growing up movin back and forth between states and iran I learned a lot of things about being persian living in another country!
    By being persian, you have feauters that most of white people don’t have! And when they see you with those features they loook at u as an outsider! But you can always change that! And blend in!
    For example a lot of persian men have unibrowns! I went to school for 2 years in the states until I figured its time to get rid of it! But don’t get rid of it in a gay way! Just remove the middle part so it won’t be attached! As comedian russell petters once said: it is called eyebrows! It means more than one! So make sure it is that way! ( I don’t remember the exact way he said but it was in that context)
    Now let’s cut to the chase and talk about growing a bear and being called a terrorist! Well at first with my white friends I usually crack maz jobrani jokes or if I get the chance I will show them a couple of his clips from youtube! A good example is the one where he says that we blow you up and then we hug you!
    I use the fact that I can grow a bear fast as an advantage! For example at work (I’m a waiter/cashier right now in a restaurent) I rub it off at my other co workers that just because I have a bear I make more tips! I tell my guy coworkers that Dude ladies dig that shit! Keeep tellin them this constantly! Trust me they start growin half bears tooo!
    Now I’m not gonna lie when they call me a terrorist at first it bugs me too for a second but I got used to it and as time goes by I developed by own comebacks! Like I use it sometime to get respect from them! Like one time a buddy of mine called me a terrorist at work and I gave him a dirty look and told him u wanna get home safe tonight or wanna celebrate an early fourth of july celebration!
    But mean while u shouldn’t forget the fact while we get called out a terrorist because of havin a bear although the last time we tried to bomb a place was more than 30 years ago! Other ethnicities have their own nickname too! Asians, mexicans, indians, blacks, even rednecks!
    So my advice bro! Share a laugh with them everytime they call you a terrorist and follow it with a dirty look! Russell peters has a good joke about this too! Youtube russell peters arab jokes! Pretty funny :)))
    In the end I don’t know if I really helped you with your problem or not!
    I was just bored waitin for someone so I wrote u a comment!
    Also sorry for the grammar and spellling errors! My phone doesn’t have auto correct and ESL! Lol

  6. Persian Guy says:

    This same exact thing happened to me today. I just started growing a beard for the first time in my life last week. Sure enough, I walked into the office today and the first thing one of my co-workers (White Male, mid 40s) says is “You know that beard makes you look like a terrorist”. He was with a female co-worker who I know probably yelled at him after he left the room because he came back 30 minutes later and apologized. But it still bothered me a lot.

    I thought a lot today about how I would respond to this comment and the other comments that are bound to happen in the future and I don’t really have a good answer. I want to grow a short beard to see how it would look because my white American girlfriend (who I love very much) thinks it would look very sexy.

    One response that may be a bit extreme but would maybe put the use of the word “terrorist” in context is to come back and say “If I look like a terrorist then you look like a child molester”. Some people may be shocked by this, but when you think about it, they are using a very negative word far too casually. When you redraw the boundaries of appropriate language by equating ‘child molester’ to ‘terrorist’, this may redefine how they perceive the word ‘terrorist’ and think twice before they use it so casually.

    I haven’t actually done this yet, but I will the next time it comes up. Of course this could just blow up in my face and make things really awkward but I think that’s still better than the bullshit I have to deal with for being ‘middle eastern’. I was born in the US and lived here my whole life and I do more for the national security of this country than most other civilians will ever do in their lives. I shouldn’t have to deal with this bullshit, beard or not.

  7. My ex has facial hair and my personal thing with it is that it scratches my face..lol.. other than that I usually call people with beards serial killer or dacoits [back home in Pakistan dacoits or dakos have been stereotyped to have full facial hair]

  8. Doroud Bar Hamatoon

    Dariush: I see that you can empathize. I’m sure that living in Canada, it can’t be as bad as other places. I’m saddened to hear what you deal with is much more serious. What I experience is considered “light-hearted ribbing”. Passive-aggressiveness is only annoying to deal with. By the way, congratulations on playing soccer in Germany. Living the dream my friend.

    Iranian-American: I remember very well you commenting previously. I’m really glad you enjoyed this article, but I’m also happy that you commented when you strongly disagreed. I like to hear from people regardless of how they feel, but yes, you usually only hear if they praise or raze you. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you always for your personal opinion, as well.

    Claire: Ha! Sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Amir: Thanks for the advice. I’m not sure what gay eyebrows are though. Never worry about spelling or grammar.

    Persian Guy: It’s not your fault you look sexy with a beard. Maybe that’s what you should tell your coworkers “Hey! I look sexy.”

    Ayesha: As long as you keep boyfriend and serial killer separate. You wouldn’t want to mix the two.

    Thank you everyone for posting. It was really fun writing this article and seeing what the different ranges in responses. It’s not the easiest topic to discuss, but I’m glad every had fun talking about it.

  9. Irooni man says:

    Dude don’t take yourself so seriously. That shit happened to me back pre-9/11 when I was 15 and had a grown beard. It’s a part of life as a Persian; deal.

    We’re not gonna shake the stereotype of middle easterners being terrorists by getting mad about it. Hint hint, that only exacerbates the problem.

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