Beards are “in,” if you haven’t noticed.
Even before everyone decided to participate in “No Shave 2020” to grow those post-pandemic COVID-catchers, beards were all the rage. In fact, they always have been. The type of beard you grow says a lot about you and identifies your rugged individuality to the world.
Hipsters, of course, almost ruined beards for everyone. Beards are supposed to connote an outdoorsy persona. Beards are not supposed to need “product.” You don’t need a beard to order a vegan latte. Luckily, beards are manlier than that and have survived the millennial insurrection. Our grandfather’s beard is rolling over in its grave at the mention of all the wax, oil, and dye that can be applied to today’s poor excuse for manly facial hair.
Beards started as a necessity. We just couldn’t shave. Early man did not have razors. Then beards became winter accessories. They help keep your face from freezing off while sledding in the Antarctic. Growing facial hair is a critical rite of passage for young men in many cultures around the world. How would the middle school prom queen know who to dance with if it weren’t for those peach fuzz ’staches?
Beards identify you in a group that has many subsets. Wartime was never conducive to shaving, and unfortunately, we have seen lots of war. Beards helped make you look meaner to the enemy to boot. War beards have multiple categories including Fu Man Chu, Viking, and Civil War. One glimpse of a beard dates the era and location.
Lumberjack is pretty much its own manly category of beard, although these days Outdoorsy Guy and Huntin’ Dude try to steal some thunder, if only to wear those sweet plaid sleeveless shirts. Moonshiner is an example of regional evolution.
A little-known biblical fact is that besides being ruddy and handsome in the Lord’s eyes, rumor has it that David had a full, shiny beard along with that sling and pebble. Religion gets its share of beard-love as Amish, rabbis, and Jesus all rock facial hair. No smoking, drinking, or cussing allowed, but letting the personal hygiene slide is A-OK with the Big Guy.
Rock Star beards tend to come and go with the decades, but don’t tell that to ZZ Top or Chris Stapleton.
Woodstock = beards. Disco = clean-shaven. Heavy metal = beards. Boy Bands ... you get the idea.
Motorcycles and beards have had a bromance since the first two-wheeler took to the open road. Nothing says I’m a free spirit and a bad character like grasshoppers plastered to your chin at the local Applebee’s.
Not to be outdone, white collar businessmen have adopted the three-day Stockbroker Stubble to let the office know the weekend is getting close and the Michelob Ultras are on ice.
All of this is lost on those of us who are facially follicle-ly challenged. Now entering my sixth decade, I couldn’t grow a decent beard if I wanted to. I was getting ID’ed at the grocery store well into my 40s. I’m not jealous, but I do wonder what all the fuzz is about ...