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Grow On, Hipster Beard!

[Note: This is a response to Izzy Grinspan's anti-beard polemic.] A hipster beard isn’t supposed to be sexy. It’s post-sex. Sex is over; the only body part we’re looking to stroke is our beard. We’re onto the next thing. We’re … Read More

By / November 8, 2007

[Note: This is a response to Izzy Grinspan's anti-beard polemic.]

A hipster beard isn’t supposed to be sexy. It’s post-sex. Sex is over; the only body part we’re looking to stroke is our beard. We’re onto the next thing.

We’re not hiding behind these beards. They’re more of a revelation than a dodge: look, here is how hair grows on my face. There is some red, and some grey, and some odd patterning. In a sensitive culture, beards may merely be declaring, “See, we’re at least this different from women.” And that’s enough.

The hipster beard has evocations of the madman, the mountaineer, the hippie, the pioneer, and the prophet. We’re not exactly any of those guys, but we like to think we’re descended a little from each.

A beard is a sign of authority, especially familial. Dads have beards. But we’re not dads. In fact, in many cases our beards themselves are the closest things we have to actual dependents.

A little stubble may be the by-product of laziness, but a real beard takes real commitment. You need to work through the itchy stage, and come to terms with the fact that you will be classified as “bearded.” Others will work though deep issues through what they see in your facial hair. There’s some trimming involved.

I admit I’m a fashion follower, rather than an innovator. I like doing things while they’re cool, and maybe a little bit afterwards. I know my place in the curve. It would be too lonely at the front of it. Being part of the sanctioned now is fun. In this way beards are both an assertion and renunciation of individuality.

Now, when I see young, arty men bopping around the city without any facial hair, they look wrong to me, naked. I want to counsel them to start growing. Heed the fashion pendulum, even if it is largely based on a contrast with what came before—jeans were low, now they’re up; shoes were pointy, now they’re round. What’s the Biblical origin story, if not the ultimate contrast? Before there was chaos, now there is meaning. All beards are religious.

Which way does your hipster beard point tonight? Nowhere. Just to itself.

The hipster beards won’t be here long. They might be gone already. So while they’re around, on their cyclical and cryptic mission, it is important to welcome them. They are like comets—a streak of wonder where usually there is empty space.

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ALSO IN JEWCY:

Izzy Grinspan explains why beards are creepy.

Marjorie Ingall loves her some man-hair.

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