January 14, 2010

ARNABeard: Pogonophobia

What is the scientific term for the fear of beards?

The quizmaster paused after asking the question, confident that no one in the room would know the answer. I was attending my first ever pub quiz. In a popular Beijing watering hole packed full of expats, participants had gelled into groups of 4-10 people. I had teamed with a Malaysian, a Mauritanian, and a couple of ABC's (American Born Chinese), but we were not faring particularly well. The quiz had had a strong European flavour, and our combined ineptitude had won us a pitcher of beer.

The tides were about to turn though, as the topic had changed to beards. In a land where facial hair is rarer than diamonds, the bearer of the ARNABeard is often the center of attention. I remembered that the art of cultivating it was known as pogonotrophy. Taking the root and combining it with the word for fear, I came up with pogonophobia. After the quizmaster disclosed the answer, it was revealed that we were the only ones to guess correctly out of the dozen or so groups participating.

A murmur of approval spread through the room like stubble across my face as I explained how I came to my conclusion. I quipped that I knew 600 million people afflicted with the condition, referring to the large female Chinese demographic that feared my manly growth. Symptoms of pogonophobia include breathlessness, excessive sweating, dread, heart palpitations, panic attacks, and the inability to speak or think clearly.


Comments from assorted Chinese girls suffering from the disease:

"You so hairy."

"You looks like gorilla."

"You would look even more handsome without your beard."

"Why you not shave?"