Do you have a goatee? Why?
September 16, 2014 2:14 AM   Subscribe

Do you have a goatee? What motivated you to grow one? Why a goatee and not some other style of facial hair? What are your cultural associations with such a look? Basically I just want to know what kind of thinking goes into the decision to grow a goatee.
posted by paleyellowwithorange to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I hate shaving, so I let my beard grow out from time to time and then carve it all off. Sometimes I do it in bits and pieces to see what various facial hair options might look like. In 2003 as I was doing this I saw that a goatee looked nice.

Plus it hid my emerging double-chin-of-older-age. I won't lie to you. When i trim my goatee close and shave my cheeks, I look younger, and I feel younger.

Since then I have found it to be a fine rapport builder. Many rough and tumble rural blue collar workers that I come into contact with also have goatees and it just seems to build rapport.

FWIW I'm basically a white guy with brown hair. I have a thick goatee that I keep trimmed short.
posted by salishsea at 2:37 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: It's a generational thing. I'm at the tail end of Generation X, and I'm betting goatees will long be associated with gen-xers.

When I grew mine, I had three reasons:
1. It was popular.
2. They look good with bald heads.
3. Full beards and (especially) mustaches are trendy among those of my parents' generation. Gross. (Witness the current trend of "ironic" mustaches among gen-xers and millennials. It's another way of saying, "see how stupid this looks?"- or, alternatively, "I'm so attractive I can afford to be ugly".)
posted by dyrets merke at 2:45 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Early in college, I grew a goatee to 1. look more mature and 2. strengthen what I perceived to be a weak chin.

Don't have it anymore, though.
posted by charlemangy at 2:51 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Haven't got one but have considered it because of the way my beard grows, sparse on the cheeks; it's a making lemonade with lemons thing.
posted by Segundus at 3:24 AM on September 16, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: My husband likes to have a beard, but the hair on the sides comes in patchy, so rather than looking a bit mangy he just trims the patchy bits off, leaving a goatee.

I don't think he associates it with any particular culture.
posted by acanthous at 4:13 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had one a goatee (ie, chin only) all through university in the early noughties. My older brother had one, and he was pretty admirable. So, pretty much emulation of a role model. Also the desire of an 18 year old to seem more adult.

After uni, I wanted to look more professional. But I looked childish when I was clean shaven - so I added a moustache to the goatee.

I now have a full beard, because I'm lazy and I hate shaving.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:14 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: I have basically always had facial hair since early high school.

It started because I'm lazy and my hair grows very quickly. Later in life I learned that I look perpetually 15 if I shave. Ask anyone that knows me.

Significant Others (my wife included) have threatened (jokingly) that I'm not sleeping with them if I have no facial hair.
posted by Twain Device at 4:15 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

For genetic reasons I cannot actually grow a goatee (technically the beard + mustache is called a "van dyke"), but that portion of the face is the most difficult to shave, and skipping that area and growing out the hair makes shaving a lot easier.
posted by deanc at 4:21 AM on September 16, 2014

I'm from New Hampshire.
posted by XMLicious at 4:25 AM on September 16, 2014

Not a goatee, but I grew a soul patch in college - or rather, kept that part of the beard I grew while abroad - partly for the novelty, partly to make me look a bit older, but mostly because it was so eminently fun to stroke it in a sagacious and thoughtful fashion.

Ten years later my cheeks still barely grow any stubble, so if I were to get facial hair now it would have to be a goatee.
posted by Drexen at 4:38 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: I have had all manner of facial hair at one time or another, being "blessed" with a very dense, even and fast-growing face of thick whiskers. For the last festive years, at the request of Mrs. slkinsey who has opined that my clean-shaven face turns into coarse-grit sandpaper in around four hours, I have been buzzing it down to classic Miami Vice length.

Anyway, first off the vast majority of people actually wear a kind of full Van Dyke -- which is to say a mustache connected to a chin beard in a kind of oval around the mouth -- not a goatee, which is on the chin only. Most people who wear a true goatee seem to do so as a kind of hipsterish alternative to a Van Dyke. For many, the Van Dyke seems to strike a balance between wearing a beard and going clean shaven, as it occupies most of the difficult shaving areas. Others feel it balances a shaven head, and this is most certainly true for certain head shapes. Especially for those out of their twenties, a common thread seems to be a desire to give a more flattering appearance to the face by augmenting a weak chin, covering up a double chin or giving more prominence to the chin in a rounded "fat guy face." Popular fashion among one's peer group also plays a role, of course. For me, it's been over a decade since the last time I wore some iteration of a Van Dyke. Some day I'd love to try out one of those Thin Man era parted and ever so slightly curved up small mustaches like my grandfather wore.
posted by slkinsey at 5:43 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: To look older. I'm a short man who looked young, so I grew a goatee in the hopes I wouldn't be carded at R rated movies. I was in grad school at the time, and was also looking to distinguish my appearance as teacher from undergrads. Wasn't sure I had the makings of a full beard, so I went with the goatee.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:46 AM on September 16, 2014

I wore a goatee for 15 years or so for purely vanity reasons. I have a fairly weak chin and a goatee gave it definition. Then a couple years ago I was on vacation in the semi-wilderness and forgot a razor. Turns out a full beard with just the below the chin area shaved helps the weak chin issue even more, so that's what I do now. I find the outside-the-goatee area of the beard much more annoying, so another reason to go for the goatee is that it's a beard without as much annoyance.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:53 AM on September 16, 2014

Today I learned that I have a Van Dyke not a goatee.

I also learned that the chances of me growing one approach 100%. I'm Gen-X, live in NH, am bald, and have a patchy beard on my cheeks.

I grew just the goatee in college and it was supremely ridiculous. Around age 25 I tried again and included the mustache and it looked good (as long as I keep it all short).

My wife has also threatened me with the couch should I ever decide to shave it all off.
posted by dweingart at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hate shaving my chin and that area between my lip and my nose.

Seriously. Can never do that great a job in those areas.

I used to have a full beard, but never did like the way the straps on my bike helmet irritated my cheeks. Also, my wife really likes the look on me.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:20 AM on September 16, 2014

I wear more of Van Dyke, although if you look closely they don't quite connect because my follicles betray me.

I tried to grow a full beard in college, found the cheeks way too itchy and didn't like it. Years later I needed six stitches in my chin after a softball accident, and decided not to shave there for a few days--and let the mustache come in as well at that time. I liked it so much I never went back.
posted by stevis23 at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2014

the vast majority of people actually wear a kind of full Van Dyke -- which is to say a mustache connected to a chin beard in a kind of oval around the mouth

I've always just called that a goatee, but clearly there are more terms than are used commonly. Anyway, I know quite a few men whose wives will allow a goatee/van dyke but won't allow a full beard, so that's what they grow. I have no cultural associations with it at all, other than seeing a lot of bald/balding men with them.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:33 AM on September 16, 2014

My partner sometimes has a goatee - or I guess has a Van Dyke, I never knew they were separate thing? You might need to come back and clarify whether you mean both.

As near as I can recall from conversations, it's basically just he likes the way it looks, and I think maybe also finds shaving around lips/chin sort of fussy and annoying, and doesn't have to do it so much with the goatee? A few times a year he goes either clean-shaven or all-out scruffy beard so he's not deeply tied to the goatee, but it's the most common thing he does, and it's the default mental image I have of him in my head.

As far as I am aware he has no specific cultural connotations, other than the occasional Evil Spock joke made to or by him about his facial hair.
posted by Stacey at 6:38 AM on September 16, 2014

Another Van Dyke here, although the mustache doesn't connect with the chin beard - largely because I don't grow hair there. That plus a few other bare patches is why I've never gone full beard. A goatee/Van Dyke is really the only way for me to have some facial hair.

I've been letting the goatee part grow pretty long for the last year, just because I can. I have a job where I can look pretty weird if I want.

Nthing the shaved head, nthing the weak/double chin.

Also another Gen-X'er here, a fairly early one, and I think there might be something to the idea of goatees being a bit of a cultural thing for us. Our parents (the Silent Generation) seemed to be mostly either clean-shaven or mustached, very few beards among my friends' dads or in media that I can recall growing up; while of course the Boomers often went full hippie growth or did some fairly elaborate things that harkened back to the 1800's, like really heavy muttonchop sideburns that sometimes connected with their mustache leaving the chin clean (almost a reverse goatee.) Admittedly, this might've be more true in media portrayals (pictures of the people at Woodstock, album covers & pictures of bands, movies & TV shows) than in real life.

Still, though, I think it's possible that we sort of collectively saw that there weren't many goatees or Van Dykes around and latched onto the style as "ours", to differentiate us from previous generations.

I might totally be talking out the back of my neck, though.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:47 AM on September 16, 2014

I originally grew mine as a sort of accident. I had been lazy about shaving for about a week. When I went to trim my whiskers, I decided to trim it down to a goatee first. I went to ask my wife what she thought, and she liked it.

Plus, I have a baby face, so it helps with that too. Also, I gain weight in my face and it helps hide the subtle double chin line.

Also: Gen X.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: When (around college?) I first grew a full beard it grew in thick and jet black - which would have been fine if my hair wasn't thin and light brown. I had more than one person ask if it was a fake beard. I trimmed it down to a Van Dyke and thought it looked good so kept it for a while. Eventually I got tired of it and of trying to keep it even etc. Went from the Van Dyke to the actual goatee for a while then eventually clean-shaven. Nowadays I tend to grow a fuller beard in the winter (to help keep my face warm while biking) and going with the aforementioned "Miami Vice" close shave so as not to be stubbly at other times. No real reason culturally or otherwise for any of this - just various combinations of bored/lazy/seeing how things look. I do hate shaving but even with a full beard I have to shave out the neck area and cheeks under the eyeballs etc. anyway.
posted by mikepop at 6:55 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: Several reasons that culminated in my current (and likely forever) facial hair style:

1. A friend in high school started growing a goatee, it looked cool, so I emulated it.
2. Discovering how wonderful it was to be lazy about my facial hair, I grew in longer sideburns. Now only had to shave my upper lip and sometimes (see #3) the strip between my goatee and my sideburns.
3. Later, I tried growing a full beard in, and while it does work, I don't get very much hair on my cheeks, so my beard often looks very Amish.
4. Sick of being called Obadiah or Jebadiah, or if I had long hair - Jesus, I decided to stick with the sideburns + goatee.

I've tried shaving it all off, but suddenly lose about 10 years to my appearance - I'd start getting carded for tobacco.

Also the short trimmed goatee is a hit with the ladies, if you know what I mean ;)

Plus lazy.
posted by ish__ at 7:21 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: I used to grow a goatee because a) I wanted some sort of facial hair to make me look a bit more mature, and b) I could never grow a full beard. Nothing would fill-in between my chin and ears.

Happily, now that I'm in my mid-50's, I can inexplicably grow a full beard. Go figure.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: I started to grow a goatee around age 20 to give my weak chin and jaw a bit more definition - "to help show where my neck stops and my face begins," I would joke. Around age 24, I realized I may as well wear a full beard, which is what I've done since then. I keep it moderately neat and never let it get too straggly or long. I routinely shave my neck because that's not my face.

I've never been particularly concerned about the culture or the fashion of beards and goatees. For me, it's always been about supplementing the perceived deficiencies of my face.

In general my husband does not like beards, but he has always agreed that my face is better off with the beard. He complains when I give a clean-shaven look a try (this happens maybe once every two years or so, out of curiosity). I have no idea how he would respond to a goatee.
posted by erlking at 8:35 AM on September 16, 2014

Best answer: I have neither a goatee or a van dyke, but a balbo. I have one because I can't grow a full beard, much as I'd like to. I look much younger without it, but apparently I still look about 7 years younger than I actually am, while I have it. MMHV.
posted by Solomon at 8:51 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ahah! Thank you Solomon. I too have a Balbo. I didn't know it had a specific name.

For the Op, I started growing mine out this way because the wife is obsessed with Iron man and that is similar (albeit alittle more simplistic) to what RDJ styles in the movies. She made a joke about me growing it that way and I did it as a laugh. Then I just kept it that way.
posted by Twain Device at 8:55 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A Van Dyke minimizes jowls really well.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:01 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me it's to compensate for my less manly features like narrow shoulders, man boobs, and an otherwise effeminate face.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:39 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My husband used to have a goatee, with a non-attached mustache (like Col Sanders, only brown.) He wanted a beard but did not think a full beard would come in nicely on the sides of his face. Once he grew the goatee he kept it because it looked good on his face.

He has since grown a full beard, which also looks nice.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:59 AM on September 16, 2014

a long time in the past, before we all had cell phones, I was waiting in a cafe for a friend. she was running late and decided to call the place. the waitress picked up, took the message and inquired whom she should inform. I overheard her struggle and ask for more descriptions until finally, she said just a bit too loudly "ooooh, the fat guy." after that I tried things in the hopes of them being my defining physical characteristic: I died my hair red. I got a goatee (which I thought to be cool until another friend told me in confidence that it looked like pubic hair. it was gone within a week). I wore flashy outfits. I changed my glasses. of course none of those things worked but I was young and I got some funny pictures out of it that nowadays rest at the bottom of an old cookie tin. I hope my girlfriend never finds them.
posted by krautland at 10:15 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a balbo, plus weird side-patches that I don't know if there's a name for. It's where the hair grows on my face. I just trim up the straggling bits and keep the goatee long, but basically trimmed/shaped. I keep it for a few reasons: mrsgoat likes it, I don't have to worry about shaving hardly ever, other people tell me it looks pretty cool, and I look kind of ridiculous without facial hair.

Plus, I have long hair and it makes me look a bit like Jesus.
posted by mrgoat at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2014

I won't deny that a goatee/van dyke works for some people, but for someone like me whose visual sense was defined by cartoons and comics, a van dyke (especially teamed with a shaved or close cropped head) equals shorthand for The Devil. And I don't mean to suggest that a deliberate mephistopheles look is a bad thing, but I see a lot of guys who have evidently not taken this into account.
posted by Flexagon at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2014

My husband has a goatee/van dyke. It started when he bought a travel shaver for a trip we took, and discovered that the shaver wasn't very powerful, so he just took the hair on the sides of his face off. I liked the way it looked, he liked the way it looked, and it stuck.

He doesn't grow the full beard because his cheek/jaw hair is patchy due to acne scarring. The only cultural association we run into is that our group are all geeks, so he's run the gamut of evil twin/Mirror Universe jokes.
posted by telophase at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2014

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