I’ve watched a lot of trends come and go. I’ve been forced, because nothing else was available, to wear shorts that were whoa-short, past the knee, and everywhere in between. I’ve been stylish in shirts from Oxford button-down to “bowling” to crushed velvet with embroidered dragons (kinda miss the mid-90s on that point).
But there’s a much slower trend cycle I’ve noticed: men’s facial hair:
When I grew my first serious beards, in the twilight of the 80’s, beards were weird. My full beard got me called “Grizzly Adams” (You’ll get it if you’re old). My Van Dyck got me called “Freud Dude” (Also a reference you’ll only get it if you’re old). My Imperial got me called “beatnik”. My Goatee + Moustache got me called “D’Artagnan”/”Ming the Merciless”.
Things stayed that way for a long time, but but the late 90’s, my now signature close-clipped, jaw-hugging beard was uncommon, but provoked no particular remark. On occasion, one would actually hear a woman commenting favorably on a man’s beard, and there were at least one or two bearded men on television who weren’t “the bad-guy”. Not leads, of course, but they were there.
In the early 2000s, when I switched to an Imperial to reduce grooming-time, I got jokes about having a “wussy-beard” or a “soul-patch”. I once actually had a particularly drunk woman in a bar tell me “I bet you could grow a full beard and look really manly. I suppose I would view this as the height of “beard=masculine” in my lifetime, but they *still* weren’t something I would have considered trendy.
By the late 2000s, I had moved to a Van Dyck, and never got a comment on it ever, not once, until today.
Today, someone trying to make a point in an online discussion tracked down my picture from one of my blogs and and told me that my beard made me a “hipster douchebag”, and that “all that beard oil” must be affecting my brain. Creepy stalker vibe aside, this inspires several thoughts. First, I’m starting to actually believe the hype that Millennials have lost the ability to even insult someone in a sophisticated manner. Second, people really hate hipsters, which is annoying, because I’ve always been more one of them than not (yeah, that’s right, I was a hipster before it was cool!). Third, I think beards are finally trendy. This weirds me out a little, because I’m kind of a hipster, and it would seem hipsters have ruined my hipster thing!