Wednesday, February 18, 2009


"Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man"
-ZZ Top, Sharp Dressed Man

Full Beard
I've had a beard since about 1989, when I saw Mark McGwire's goatee and thought "hey, that looks pretty good." I wore the goatee for a few years, then saw that everyone and their goat (so to speak) in the Northwest had one, and it was not as interesting as it once was. So I let it grow out and now I have a close cropped full beard and mustache.

Eventually I want to let the beard just grow, keep it trimmed neat, but long. I love the idea of a long grandpa beard like Moses, but for now I have it under control. For a while, beards and mustaches were not very common with men. It covered their manly chins, one presumes. You would spot some guys with the goatee or the ludicrous soul patch that made it look like they were messy eaters, but full beards were very rare.

Then the Don Johnson stubble look became a bit more popular again, hearkening back to neon pastel Miami Vice days. Now, apparently, beards have caught on once more, after more than a century of disregard. Diane Mapes at MSNBC reports:
These days, the hirsute pursuit has evolved into a full-blown, full-grown trend. According to the marketing research company The NPD Group, sales of electric shavers and men’s facial trimmers have dipped 12 percent just in the last year while beard-related activities are, well, bristling.
Why? Well Ms Mapes injects her personal theories into it: cold weather and a tough job market. The cold weather theory has some logic to it at least (it does help keep your face warm to have the beard) but that's not why guys grow facial hair. The job market is a complete non sequitur and seems almost as if she felt compelled to inject something about the economy into the story and thought that somehow fit. When you look for work you do not buck the trends, you go as safe and conservative as you can hoping to attract work.

Women's opinions on the topic vary, but women will find that guys are pretty stubborn on the subject and they'll have to get used to it. Most guys will give in on a lot of things because it is just easier not to fight, but some things we just pick and won't budge on. And as women are finding out, the beard isn't bristly or stiff at all:
“I thought it would feel weird on my face, that it would feel rough, but it’s actually very soft,” she says. “And I find the masculinity of a beard very attractive. I’m in full support of the beard movement."
After facial scrubs, carefully manicured fingernails, hair styles and tanning booths of the wretched, pathetic metrosexual movement, beards do strike a distinctly masculine note. A full beard once was considered a sign of virility and strength - no callow youth could grow one. It saves time shaving (although you still need to shape and trim it, and shave part of your face), and makes you stand out from a crowd, still.

The verdict seems to be divided in culture, some women hate them ("like kissing a dog" says one quote in the article), and some find them manly and attractive; some men don't care for them, some do. They put a poll on the MSNBC site: what do you think about beards? Ladies, do you like the bearded man or do you want them clean shaven?

One wonders, though, what old fashioned, even ancient trend will return? Fashion designers tried to bring back the pointy shoe recently to howls of derisive laughter from most men. Perhaps hats will return; I always liked the hat look.

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