For fans of the Twilight franchise, this past week was an exciting one. Not only did the series’ main star, Robert Pattinson, debut his gorgeous new haircut, but also Edward Cullen, the vampire himself, made an appearance at the end of the latest installment, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. While many people were happy to see the end of the saga that was once again fueled by celebrity and money, the actor’s haircut was not the only thing that gained popularity as a result of the movie’s release. According to Google Trends, interest in vampire fiction reached an all-time high in the week following Breaking Dawn – Part 2’s premiere.
With the rise in popularity of vampirism as a lifestyle choice and genre of literature came a new style for men: the hipster beard. More commonly associated with comedy movies and the early 2000s, bearded men are now commonly seen on the streets and in coffee shops across the globe.
Thoughts on fashion and lifestyle blog Bonjoro popularized the trend and even went as far to dub the style ‘BTP’ – Boyish Tribal Phalanx – because of its prevalence in the works of artists from Brandon Taylor to Jay Smith. Fashion influencers also jumped on the bandwagon and helped popularize the look, most notably the collective known as ‘The Beards’ on TikTok.
While the ‘hipster beard’ has become a common sight, it has not been without its critics. Many people claim that facial hair is not suited for women and children. In 2018, a Swedish woman named Sarah Louise tried to make that claim, tweeting that “a full grown man with a full grown beard will frighten small children,” and that children should not have to “face a bearded man when they wake up in the morning.”
As someone who has both children and grandchildren, I can attest that a full grown man with a full grown beard will not frighten small children, and neither will children wake up to face a bearded man when they wake up in the morning.
But as with most things in life, this fashion statement is not without its exceptions. For example, many Native Americans and Inuits wear facial hair as part of their traditional dress. Many men in African countries also grew heavy beards as a sign of manhood. While there are no exact figures on how many men in the world sport a beard, it is estimated that about 40 percent of the male population over 15 years old in developed countries sports a full or partial beard.
But why is facial hair becoming popular now? And what does it mean for men and society at large?
Why Is Facial Hair Popular Now?
It is no secret that the fashion world is ever shifting with the times. When Bonjoro first launched, the influencers and celebrities that they followed and the content they shared were primarily focused on style and fashion trends in the U.S. Now, the influencers and content that they follow and the type of lifestyle that they promote are often focused on international trends, as the industry has shifted towards digital nomads and entrepreneurs who live and work abroad.
As a result of this change, men have been known to sport facial hair in a way that was previously reserved only for women. For example, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey both have heavy beards and are commonly mistaken for being bearded. While both men sport a full beard, their appearances in the media have not always been associated with facial hair.
But what about the influencers and celebrities of today? If traditional beards are making a comeback on the red carpet, what will their followers do?
In the past, a man’s facial hair would often be a sign of good breeding or even royalty. But today, it is simply a way to express yourself and your identity. As Bonjoro founder and CEO Stephanie Hamill put it: “Today, a man with a full beard is often a sign of authenticity, intelligence, and strength.”
This is not to say that these qualities cannot be associated with women, too. After all, many successful women today, like Sheryl Sandberg, Cate Blanchett, and Angela Merkel, are well-known for their striking appearances, and they all happen to sport a full beard. So what will the women’s fashion world look like as more and more women begin to sport facial hair?
While we cannot yet predict the future, it is clear that as more and more men sport facial hair, the fashion world will never be the same. And it is important to remember that just because your granddad has a full and healthy beard, that does not mean you will automatically grow one too!
How Does This Trend Impact Society At Large?
As much as we may not yet see the effects of this trend in society at large, we can certainly see it influencing men and women alike. For example, when journalist and blogger Anna Puri wrote an article for the Washington Post titled “How Sports Are Increasingly Influencing Men’s Fashion,” she discussed this trend and its effects. While many men may initially sport the ‘hipster beard’ for humor or irony, she noted that those who choose to sport the style are doing so because they identify with what is popular and trendy.
And it is this trend that is changing the way that people see and identify with masculinity. As she put it: “The rise of the ‘hipster beard’ might signal a shift towards a more modern and relaxed interpretation of masculinity.”
Is This A Good Or Bad Trend?
This trend is clearly a moment in fashion history worth documenting. But, like most things, it is important to recognize and understand its ramifications. As with any new fashion trend, there is the potential for great good and even greater bad. Here are a few of the most impactful ways that this trend could shape and transform our world.
More Attention For Men’s Health
One of the potential benefits of the ‘hipster beard’ is that it could mean better men’s health. After all, many men who wear beards are frequently associated with various wellness trends, like the ‘Healthy Beard’ movement and the ‘Paleo’ diet.
According to the World Health Organization, about 400 million people worldwide are classified as overweight. Of those, 200 million are classified as obese. In 2017, the organization estimated that being overweight cost the world economy $26 trillion in lost productivity at work and $9.3 trillion in healthcare expenses.
While there is no certain scientific evidence that links eating a healthy diet and a full beard to improved health, there is a strong correlation between the two. After all, like most things in life, different strokes suit different people. And for some, a healthy diet and a full beard may be the key to their good health.
Emergence Of The ‘Metrosexual’
In the 20th century, men were often defined by their jobs and their possessions. While these still represent important ways of defining masculinity, it is evident that this trend towards beards is opening up new possibilities for men. According to the marketing research company Mintel, facial hair is now associated with individuality, self-expression, and even “metrosexuality.”
In the coming years, as more and more men begin to sport beards, we may see an emergence of the ‘metrosexual’. This term refers to highly groomed and fashionable men who are often associated with urban culture, downtown business districts, and the arts.
While the metrosexual is often associated with sex appeal and fashion, he is not necessarily a charming or likeable personality. In fact, in many ways, he is antithetical to the “average” or “regular” person. So it is evident that this is not a look that is intended to become popular with everyone!
Creative And Innovative Art
Since the dawn of art, men have been known to be more likely to paint, draw, or sculpt. But, in today’s world, emerging artists and creative individuals are often breaking down traditional gender roles, particularly when it comes to art. And it is this aspect of the ‘hipster beard’ trend that is exciting the artistic community, particularly given the platform that blogging and Instagram offer for emerging artists.