Facial hair, in the form of beards, moustaches and sideburns, has been the ultimate symbol of masculinity since time immemorial. Beards in fashion vary from light stubble to heavy stubble to the ‘classic’ full beard, but the beard remains a timeless fashion accessory for men of all ages.
In early modern society, the appearance of a beard was thought to be caused by the increased heat of the male body during adolescence, which caused heat or vapours to rise in the body. A beard therefore signified maturity, virility and courage.
The Full Grizzly Adams
In the nineteenth century, when organised campaigns for women’s suffrage began to appear, Victorian men responded by growing big, thick beards. Philosopher Karl Marx, naturalist Charles Darwin and even bushranger Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly were exponents of the full beard that was a common style at the time.
Speaking of the nineteenth century, that was the time when Jack The Ripper struck fear into the hearts of London residents. Nowadays, Jack The Clipper has a barbershop on the site of each ‘Ripper’ killing. So, for a much more pleasurable ‘experience’, why not check out the range of services available at https://www.jacktheclipper.co.uk/services/
Show Us Your Mo
In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, beards and moustaches were popular in the British Army, especially in India, where an absence of facial hair was considered immature and effeminate. Indeed, between 1860 and 1916 moustaches were compulsory in all the British Armed Forces.
Later in the twentieth century, passing trends in facial hair included the Beatniks, the Hippies, the full handlebar moustache, as popularised by the late Freddie Mercury, designer stubble and the goatee. The goatee, which first became fashionable in the mid-1990s, still endures to some extent, but the current beard trend towards big, thick beards shows no sign of abating.
Driven by celebrities such as Christian Bale, George Clooney and Ryan Reynolds, the ‘old-fashioned’ full beard is being worn by many men, young and old. It has been suggested that this style of beard has scholarly, even religious, connotations but, whatever the reason for its rise in prominence, it appears that the phenomenon known as ‘peak beard’ is still some way away.
Peak Beard, The Rarer The Better
The idea behind peak beard, which was first suggested in 2013, is that the attractiveness of a full beard increases with rarity. Apparently, both sexes find full beards more attractive when they are rare, so as more and more men grow beards the less attractive they become and popularity shifts in favour of clean-shaven men. In some respects, beard growth in men is akin to hair colour in women; there is some evidence that blonde, brunette and red shades become popular because of their novelty.
Beards Make You A Real Man
Whether peak beard is ever reached and, indeed, how long the current beard trend lasts, remains to be seen but, throughout history, beards have always reflected masculinity. It could be that modern man believes, consciously or subconsciously, that the pressures of modern living, including changing gender roles, are eroding his masculinity. There’s also some circumstantial evidence that beard growth is a response to harsh economic conditions, such as those following the Wall Street Crash in 1929. So, perhaps the latest wave of bristly chins is due to the credit crunch. Of course, it could simply be, as American psychologist Robert Pellegrini wrote in 1973, that ‘inside every clean-shaven man there is a beard screaming to be let out.’
Whatever the real reason, the trend is just one of many that has come and gone over the years. Beards, and facial hair in general, have always gone through cyclical fashions; it’s just that beard trends tend to be more enduring and perhaps therefore more noticeable than other fashion trends.