At the last World Beard and Moustache Championships held in Berlin in 2005, the USA took a wooping.
While it is probably not necessary to appoint a study group, nevertheless, if Beard Team USA is to succeed in its quest to make the USA a power in international facial hair competitions, it is now time to analyze the situation carefully, consider all points of view, and plan the way forward. It may be a bit of an exaggeration to say that the situation is grave and deteriorating, but at least one thing is clear: Staying the course will not lead to victory.
In Berlin, perennial powerhouse Germany won first-place trophies in fourteen of the seventeen categories. Our allies from Great Britain won two of the categories (FuManchu and, appropriately enough, English) while the USA had to settle for a face-saving but disappointing single gold by American hero Toot Joslin in the Sideburns category.
There is a good reason for Germany's overwhelming dominance. It has to do with the competition categories. Our German friends take the category descriptions very seriously. In the past, our approach for the most part was to simply show up with our beards and moustaches styled (or unstyled) the way we like them and hope that the judges liked them too. We emphasized individuality and self-expression while our German opponents focused on styling their facial hair to conform to the category descriptions. Whatever our personal philosophies might be, if we are to become a force at the WBMC, we now need to engage in category specific training.
The Handlebar Club recently announced the official rules and categories for Brighton. You can see them here. www.worldbeardchampionships.com/Categories/categories.htm. For the most part, the Handlebar Club has decided to go with the traditional categories as originally formulated by the German beard clubs. Notably, not all beards are treated equally. Also noteworthy is the fact that the categories are heavily weighted toward various unusual kinds of moustaches. In fact, out of the 17 categories, as many as nine of them are what English speakers would call moustaches. This is true even though moustaches seem less common today than beards.
At this point, the best strategy for members of America's team is to simply let their facial hair grow and see what develops. Shortly before the competition, we will be making stategic trimming decisions designed to bring victory to the USA.
But don't worry, while we may trim, we have no plans to cut and run. There will be no graceful exit by BTUSA.