Joking aside, when it comes to judging a book by its cover nothing leads to a more distinct instant characterization of an individual quite like facial hair.  Do it right, and the world is your oyster.  Do it wrong, and you may be mistaken for homeless & sad.

He gets an A+ in my book. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I've had facial hair of some sort since I was in 9th grade.  It all started innocently enough, trying to grow the mutton chops like Luke Perry & Brady Anderson (Google it).  I've had those sideburns since.  That's 21 years, folks.  About the time I graduated high school I added the goatee to my repertoire.  Aside from the one time I shaved the goatee just out of curiosity of what I looked like without facial hair (it wasn't pretty) I've been sporting a goatee of various lengths since.

From time to time I'd try to round out the goatee with a mustache on top, but what I discovered is that I have a blonde mustache.  From more than just a few feet away it looks like I've got a Hitler-esque mustache.  Tragic for me, I know.  It was a little over a year ago that I added the beard, and I finally feel complete.  It appears growing a beard may be one of my few skills in life.  I may look like I'm Amish from a distance (again, blonde mustache), but it works because no one would think a non-Amish dude would be sporting the no-mustache beard.

There's no way he should be hiding that face with a terribly-constructed beard. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

I say all this because entering the world of the bearded has made me both an expert and a cynic when it comes to judging the beards of others.  I'm not into the long Duck Dynasty beards, but I'm also not into the George Michael stubble beard.  I prefer the Zach Galifianakis look, like a big teddy bear.  Personal preferences aside, everyone can spot one of those sad people that can't see the foolishness of their pursuit of facial hair.

Seeing Leonardo DiCaprio at the Golden Globes last night had me feeling better about myself.  Seeing that one of the world's leading men can't grow a respectable beard means that I'm more of a man than Leo (in my own head).  It also points out the fact that not all men should go the facial hair route.  If I had a face like Leo I'd have it shaved down constantly.  I wouldn't want to deprive the world of my good looks.  I grow a beard specifically to hide my worst feature:  my mug.

Fear it, indeed. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It's good to see that there are still standards for beards, and it's good to see there are people that actually enforce these standards.  The British Royal Navy is the only branch of the UK military that allows a full beard.  That sounds like a great way for a British sailor to be lazy and just refuse to shave for months at a time while at sea.  But wait, there are rules for those beards.  Sailors have to submit a written request for permission to stop shaving.  Once permission is granted the sailor has two weeks before he must appear in front of a board that then decides whether the beard is worthy to continue, or whether the wearer must return to shave in disgrace, feeling like less than a man.

There should be a version of that for the general public.  As a beard wearer you should be forced to allow the rest of the bearded public to draw a red "X" on your forehead if they feel your facial hair/beard isn't up to acceptable standards.  If you receive three red "X's" in a single 24-hour period you should be forcibly shaved in a public forum.  If you can fight on the masses of razor-yielding dudes with beards for a five-minute period of time you can keep the beard.  If not, you're cast back into the world of clean-shaven girly-men.