06 February 2014

A Word on Beards and Hipsters

The evening chill descends on my beachfront neighbourhood like a tiresome guest at a cocktail party. I sit on my balcony and sip a glass of Argentine malbec, enjoying the sound of the pounding surf. An unsettling thought suddenly occurs to me. For all of my hostility towards the hipsters, I realize, I actually share quite a number of similarities with them.

These are, for the most part, merely superficial. Flannel shirts and denim? I've been wearing them for years, although mine are probably laundered more frequently. Horn-rimmed spectacles? Been there, done that, about to do it again. Short back-n-sides or clipped haircut? Ditto, and you can check it out for yourself on this blog. Beard? Yes, it's well-documented, recently, too.

Important differences exist. For one, I don't have any tattoos, although I'm not particularly hostile to the idea. The other thing is, where hipsters often try to look like woodsmen, I actually have the physique of a lumberjack. Most of the hipsters I've seen are small, wiry young fellows. It's not their fault, though; I applaud them for trying. And finally, as you know, I thoroughly loathe bow-ties.

This comparison, I believe, was subconsciously prompted by a recent article at The Atlantic on beards. The piece in question essentially labelled as 'racist' European-American men who sport facial hair, such as yours truly. Reviewing the history of beards in America, it is an amusing piece of research, and reading it one would be hard-pressed to determine if the author, Sean Trainor, is being entirely serious. I suspect he is.

Anti-beardism, I would argue, is simply the result of lesser-male jealousy. Beard envy, if you will. A beard practically roars masculinity. It is blatant testament to the inequality between the sexes, and, one might add, among the races. And if one combines it with height, weight-lifting and the right attitude, it's bound to alarm the smooth-cheeked mangina contingent. All of these combine to produce a powerful rebuke to the prevailing ideology of egalitarianism.

One might go further. Bearded hipsterdom itself in a way represents a reclamation of masculine style and masculine pastimes. It is a carving-out of a masculine space in an increasingly feminized world. I would add here that there is a deep undercurrent of European-American identity in this project, however strongly hipsters and others might deny it. Note the appropriation of their forefathers' clothing, the dedication to old-school grooming, the taking-up of antiquated crafts and vocations. One might go on.

All of this, of course, is too great a shock to the fogey system and merits no more than a few moments' worth of reflection.

I pour another glass of wine, pull my Barbour quilted jacket around myself, and glare into the darkness.


John said...

"The 19th-century beard may have sprouted from a fear of razors and a distaste for black barber shops. But it grew into a symbol that set white American men apart from smooth-faced foreigners as well as powerful women at home..."

And Sean Trainor's point would be what, exactly? That setting one's self "apart" from others is a bad thing? Fucking idiot.

Anonymous said...

Support diversity for facial hair:

We're here and we have beard!

I hated, hated, the grooming rules when a lad that required to be clean shaven for some bullshit job. It's a giant reason I am my own boss.

P said...

Sean Trainor is an utter, utter spastic in every sense but the literal.

NCJack said...

So, I guess when beards became unpopular, it was a movement by White American males to show solidarity with women and foreigners....like back in the oh-so-liberal 1950s??

Unknown said...

Our leader in the small group classroom of our clinical clerkship was a world famous professor. He was a short, round, bald fellow with glasses who always wore bow ties. We were discussing appearances and their meaning. A tie was denoted the single piece of clothing that differentiates one as 'dressed up'.

When one in the class observed that the tie is also a phallic symbol another class member asked, "What about a bow tie?"

The professor, without missing a beat, said, "They are the testicles."

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

I don't know if you realize this or not, but your writing, which was always good--in this post--reaches the excellent and damn near hits poetic heights. Think really seriously about writing an E-Book. I have some experience in being published, both traditionally, and indie, and no BS--I am damn impressed by the language in this post. Bravo!

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

O ~ Another benefit of going independent.

WAM ~ Thanks for the kind words.

Carmelo Pugliatti said...

What exactly is a "hipster"?
A new type of beatnik ?

von Eulenburg said...

I recently grew a beard because I was too ill to shave. I've always preferred the Prussian look. After reading this disgraceful article, I have decided to grow a spade-shaped beard of the profits.

von Eulenburg said...

I recently grew a beard because I was too ill to shave. I've always preferred the Prussian look. After reading this disgraceful article, I have decided to grow a spade-shaped beard of the profits.

Anonymous said...

great post!!! You can write something interesting without mentioning yoga pants, cougars, various sexual exploits, etc. I was beginning to wonder. This was a nice read.

Herr Kalt said...

That was great, like Jack Donovan at his best sans homosexuality.

Also, my thoughts exactly. I've never had anything against hipsters (excluding overtly gay ones).

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

HK ~ Thanks for the kind words. Speaking of Jack, look out for his forthcoming book, A Sky Without Eagles, due in March 2014.