Facial Hair in Asia
My friend Aldona doesn't like my (trimmed) beard. She says I looked better without out it, and has made several not-so-subtle attempts to get me to shave it. I like it (even though I don't think it's that great of a beard), and how it completely changes the way locals perceive my age in this region of the world.
Beards aren't common in SE Asia. Moustaches and/or bearded chins, yes, but not full-face beards. I don't think the majority of men are capable of growing them. This has created a culture of women who like feminine looking men, especially in Thailand.
To phrase it another way, having facial hair does not attract Thai women.
I'm currently 27 years old. With a beard, not a single Asian has guessed my age to be less than 34. Without it, I typically get 23 from both men and women.
What does this mean to me as a traveler? Well, I think about how I can use it to my advantage. Sporting this type of facial hair it adds at least 10 years of perceived life experience when locals size me up. It pulls me out of the "traveling student" stereotype and into a different one—although, I'm still understanding what it really means to move about under the assumed profile of a "traveling professional/sex tourist."