Fidel Castro on why beards are important
“The story of our beards is very simple: It arose out of the difficult conditions we were living and fighting in as guerrillas. We didn’t have razor blades, or straight razors. When we found ourselves in the middle of the wilderness, up in the Sierra, everybody just let their beards and hair grow, and that turned into a kind of badge of identity,” Fidel Castro: My Life, published by Scribner.
“For the campesinos [farmers] and everybody else, for the press, for the reporters, we were los barbudos — the bearded ones. It had its positive side: In order for a spy to infiltrate us, he had to start preparing months ahead — he’d have had to have a six-months’ growth of beard, you see. So the beards served as a badge of identity, and as protection, until it finally became a symbol of the guerrilla fighter. Later, with the triumph of the revolution, we kept our beards to preserve the symbolism,”
“Besides that, a beard has a practical advantage: You don’t have to shave every day. If you multiply the 15 minutes you spend shaving every day by the number of days in a year, you’ll see that you devote almost 5,500 minutes to shaving. An eight-hour day of work consists of 480 minutes, so if you don’t shave you gain about 10 days that you can devote to work, to reading, to sport, to whatever you like.”
Castro, commonly referred to as Comandante, adds: “Not to mention the money you save in razor blades, soap, after-shave lotion, hot water… So letting your beard grow has a practical advantage and is also more economical. The only disadvantage is that grey hairs show up first in your beard. Which is why some of the men who had let their beards grow, cut them the minute the grey hairs started to show, because you could hide your age better without a beard.”