New Persona

“The man who has just left his wife or his profession or both often stops shaving temporarily. The resulting beard, as it develops, will most obligingly give him the different successive aspects appropriate to the stages of psychological and social development he is about to pass through. That is, first it makes him look like someone caught in a natural disaster—flood, earthquake, fire; then it makes him look like a bum; then like a shipwrecked mariner; and finally like a desperado. Eventually the man either returns to his wife and/or job (or to a very similar wife and job) and shaves off his beard; or else he changes his life permanently, in which case the beard (if allowed to survive) takes its final form and becomes part of his new persona.”

—Alison Lurie, The Language of Clothes (1981)

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