Saturday, August 17, 2019

On Those Ridiculous Beards

The time has come for something to be said about the beards.

I first noticed the millennial lads sporting beards as a sort of avant-garde fashion statement.  Or so it appeared.  Then later I thought:  This is a fad and will soon enough pass.  But there was a time when I thought the same about Starbucks and its bitter coffee.  And yet the beards continued to multiply, spreading like a contagion to anyone under forty.  Today the trend seems more prevalent than ever.  It's an epidemic of pogonotrophy.  So what are we to make of it?

Let's start with a few simple questions.  Is it laziness?  I don't think so; some of these things must be a bear to groom (pardon the pun).  But for the ungroomed which we sometimes see, maybe it is just that, laziness.  Is it peer pressure?  Surely, there must be some of that as well.  Deteriorating societal standards of personal presentation?  Oh yeah, that too.

But I have a darker question:  Are these guys hiding an extreme lack of self-confidence behind a mask of facial hair?  Wait...what?  Surely that is reading way too much into a mere fashion statement, right?  Besides:  All of them?  Really?  But just for fun, let's push the question to the end:  Are these beards emblematic of a growing lack of confidence in the West?  Or at least for an ever-increasing number of its male participants?  And what does that mean for our future?  Over the top?  Read on.

I suppose younger men have it tough.  I mean current academic and other bien pensant attitudes towards masculinity are rather unsympathetic, and sometimes even hostile.  I have read that a beard is the last acceptable method for a man to demonstrate his masculinity.  Have these young men been so emasculated by academia and political correctness that they feel like they have to grow a Taliban-style beard to prove to themselves and to others that they are in fact male?  That's a sad thought; pathetic if true.  But when thinking about this trend, that is the word that most often comes to mind:  Pathetic.

And I do question the new beard's effectiveness as a symbol of masculinity.  A beard alone just cannot make an unmanly man look manly, much less be manly.  Rather it just makes him look ridiculous.  And fraudulent.  The problem is that these are not rugged, outdoorsy men, working in the elements, growing beards as a matter of course.  These are not lumberjacks, oilfield roughnecks, merchant seamen, or deep sea fishermen.  Men with constant traces of dirt and grease under their fingernails.  No, no, these are baristas and shoe salesmen and various liberal arts graduates who want to look like roughnecks.  And of course, we all see through that. 

Now no doubt these guys would argue:  "Hey, I know that no one will confuse me with a lumberjack.  But it's a look.  An edgy fashionable look.  And I'm an edgy fashionable sort of fellow."  And there is no arguing with that.  I mean Heidi Klum just married the Geico caveman. 

And that is part of the problem, ladies.  You are tolerating and perhaps even encouraging this absurd pretense.  Stop it.  Tell the men in your life just how ridiculous they look.

Will that arrest declining confidence in the West?  Absolutely not.  But at least it's something.