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The Hairy Truth: Why Beards Are Not a Passing Trend

Updated on December 12, 2015

The Staying Power of the Beard

Beards have grown on society (forgive the pun). There is a resonance that still rings clearly some seven years after the beard really began showing signs of being a trend. The word trend, however, implies that beards will soon be sheared and relegated to the rebellious past. The difference, however, between beards and bell bottoms is that beards have crossed the expanse that divides the fickle word of fashion from the domain of everyday life and entered the territory of American practicality. Beards are no longer popular just because they are different. Rather, more young men are embarking on manhood with the intention of being bearded. Beards correspond with a new type of manhood. Being a grownup is no longer about keeping up appearances. Rather, it is about having audacity and the courage to be expressive and generative at the same time. Modern manhood is a combination of efficiency and effectiveness. Allowing the face to sprout its own protection saves time and affords the benefit of a built-in sun block. It is a combination of time-saving and function that makes the beard an extension of modernity's man.

The Lionheart and his Mane

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Wily Whit's Beard

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Some Bearded Greats

Socrates is the forerunner of philosophy and the father of modern thinkers. He was renown for deep thought and insight. He allowed his thoughts to venture beyond the boundaries of his society's limitations. And, he fearlessly presented thoughts that flew in the face of convention. Socrates of unafraid and unyielding even when his thoughtfulness landed him in trouble with the establishment. In fact, was executed for his renegade ways. Yet, Socrates would likely not seem as sagacious without that flowing, white beard. It is paternal and comforting while adding the weight of time and experience to the words that he speaks. Perhaps it seems silly to suggest that facial hair makes the man, but try to imagine Socrates clean shaven.

A warrior, king and hero, Richard the Lionheart, is another significant wearer of the beard. He led troops into battle at only sixteen years of age, lorded over a nation embroiled in war for the duration of his reign and never ceased to look regal. But, would the lion moniker seem as fitting if not for the glorious mane framing that royal face? Surely, Richard I would have been as bold and strong without the beard, but there is an added severity and ferocity that could only be balanced by one as calculating and standalone as he.

More recently, Walt Whitman proudly sported a substantial beard while challenging the presuppositions of a generation. His subversive wit and and succinct writing allowed him access to the minds of the prudish to push against their notions of piety. His candor and brazen disregard for authority are respected and emulated by subsequent writers. He would not be stifled by God or man, and it would seem that some measure of the courage was attributable to the shock of unruly, white shrubbery that protruded from his chin. It gave him a look that straddled somewhere between recluse and eccentric. But, that was disarming and offset the sharp rebuke he so often dealt the bourgeois.

Bearded and Avant-garde

The quintessential hipster
The quintessential hipster | Source

The Modern Beard

The beard is now a staple of male fashion adorning the faces of fashion’s darlings and corporate hot-shots. The baby smooth face of the Mad Men era has been eclipsed by a bushy movement of bohemian sensibility. The origin of this most recent uptick in beardedness, can likely be traced to a ubiquitous group of love-to-hate trend setters- hipsters. The early 2000s were marked by metrosexual style that epitomized the preened and pretty aesthetic of high-maintenance and high cost grooming habits. An economic crash and a rising tide of renegade millennials coalesced in an outright rejection of plastic personas. A grassroots return to simpler, more true to nature looks were paired with an obvious parody of society’s expectations. The result was large mustaches and bushy beards being sported by young men with nothing to prove and nothing to lose. An anti-commercialism found safe harbor among a group that had come of age in one of the most devastating economies in the history of the United States. Wearing facial hair was both nonconformist and a statement that one cannot be bothered with things as petty as prettying the face. The beard became a sign and a promise that the new crop of men rising from the ashes of a recession would be focused on things that mattered, unlike the perceived self-obsessed men of the early millennium. And, the promise to be focused on things more important than self-beautification seems to be all the more poignant as the citizenry still grapples with a faltering world.

Beards and the Facial Future

The beard will continue to have its detractors. Razor companies sell more razors when men are clean shaven and the fashion industry gets a boost in credibility when its representatives correctly foretell a waning trend. So, articles will continue to be published that predict the disappearance of the beard. Razor commercials will continue to advertise attractive men being tenderly caressed by beautiful women after achieving a perfect shave with the latest seventeen blade monstrosity. But the bearded have recognized the revolution. Wearing nature’s facial fur is not about achieving the look of the moment but about living in the moment without wasting the most precious of resources- time. The beard has graced the faces of the wisest, strongest and boldest. Finally, it does once more. As the tide of fashion changes, there may very well be those who cave to the pressure to shave. Those individuals, however, are not of the caliber of the aforementioned hirsute heroes. The promise keepers will carry on with properly prioritized agendas. They will continue to see the world with potential and impress upon it the greatness they embody. Refusing to be at the whim of society is what allows renegades to become influencers and influencers to become heroes.

Are beards a fleeting fashion statement?

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    • Andy Lee Lawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Lawson 

      2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Thank you. I hope James Harden is among those who keep it for life. His beard is awesome.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 

      2 years ago

      Very well written Andy. Some friends and I just had a conversation about all the young sports guys that suddenly have beards. Some of them just "joined a club" but others will probably keep them.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Lawson 

      2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Merry Christmas to you. Have fun and eat cookies.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 

      2 years ago

      So you don't want all of your hygiene problems behind you? I knew a guy through my old job who was gutted by an ex, in the figurative sense. He grew out only his neck hair which was considerably thicker than average and showed no signs of stopping. I thought he was going to get spray painted by PETA last winter. I thought maybe he was actively repelling women or trying out for a role as a werewolf. Beards do have functions. I hear my son stirring and my husband just handed me coffee. I think my Christmas is about to start. Merry Christmas!

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Lawson 

      2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Haha, thank you. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of beards on women; although, if you've got it, flaunt it... Maybe not, on second thought. As for wiping and bathing, that's time I'll happily waste. But only because wasting time is preferable to waste on my behind (sorry, it's all I got).

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 

      2 years ago

      Bathing takes time, too, as does wiping. Saving time is not always all it is cracked up to be. See, that cracked me up. Lets just be proud of our terrible puns. It probably won't surprise you that I am not a beard fan. It's not sexist. I'm not fond of them on women either. However just looked at your picture. You do wear yours better than most.

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