Appearance matters

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I was a bit surprised at Christmas to see my generally fashion-indifferent brother-in-law walk into the room looking very GQ in his new attire. When I asked him where the new clothes had come from he laughed and said that it was just all part of his new business plan.

My brother-in-law, Mike Seitz, owns a franchise called Nature’s Pet. In his business, he travels to countless business meetings to meet with investors and potential store owners across the country. Going into these meetings he would spend countless hours perfecting his business-plan presentations to show these potential investors.As his business has grown, he said he has noticed something very important: many of them were more interested in how he presented himself than in the papers he had slaved over for hours.

When the business continued to grow he decided to meet with a professional stylist at a department store and change his wardrobe a bit so that he looked more professional. As a result of his new style, people started to look at him in a different light, take him more seriously in his career.

Hearing my brother-in-law talk about this I realized this story makes an important point: appearance matters.

One of the goals of BYU is to teach students how to become successful people in the professional world after they graduate. In order to do this, BYU has set certain standards, known as the Honor Code, in order to keep students on that path.

One of the most highly debated subjects about the Honor Code is beards. At BYU, men are expected to remain clean-shaven with the exception of those who hold “beard-cards.” During my time at BYU, I think I have heard every argument in the book for and against this policy. Many men at BYU feel that they should be able to choose whether or not to sport beards.

While I understand this argument and agree that people should be able to choose for themselves, we all made the decision to sign that Honor Code when we came to BYU. It was our choice to come here, where these restrictions exist, and not to some other school.

Many students have a problem with this rule in the Honor Code because they don’t understand why certain rules are needed. I don’t know if I have a perfect answer to this question, but I do believe how we present ourselves to others is an important learned trait in the modern world. Keeping a clean-shaven look can help men do this.

I am personally not a huge fan of beards or mustaches on men, with very few exceptions. Curious about what other women thought about this, I asked around the newsroom, and the general consensus was that they prefer clean-shaven men. Our receptionist even went so far as to say that no man should ever have a beard unless they are at least over 30.

While we all may have our own personal biases about this subject, the rule remains the same: no beards without a beard card at BYU. With that said, understanding of the subject can help BYU students come to terms with it.

Male missionaries are required to take on the clean-shaven look throughout the durations of their missions. With all of the looks they could take on, why must they wear a suit and tie while sporting short hair and a clean-shaven face?

As a missionary, I was constantly in situations where I was meeting new people and being judged instantly on my appearance before I could even open my mouth. During this time, I was more aware of the level of modesty I portrayed through my dress and grooming and whether or not it indicated the message I was trying to get across.

While beards have become more acceptable in the professional world, the clean-shaven look is generally more widely accepted. If a man decides to sport a beard while working he needs to make sure that it is nicely trimmed and maintained, and even with this I personally don’t think it always works for most men.

First impressions and appearances are important in the world in which we live. Whether or not we agree with BYU’s no-beard policy, we all signed the Honor Code and agreed to represent the image BYU is trying to portray, and with that comes a clean-shaven, modest look.

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