A piece in the Guardian asks "Have We Reached Peak Beard?" God, I hope not. I really hope not. I feel like beards and I have only just begun. If beards die out now Nicholas Sparks will have to write a book about how they were taken from me too soon, and then a major studio can make it into a motion picture starring the Hemsworth brothers as beards.
The piece's author, Emine Saner, describes herself as a "staunch pogonophile," (Greek for "beardfucker") so we know she's not just another snooty Times writer in khaki cargo shorts mincing over to Brooklyn so they can write about hipsters with a detached air of wounded nerd superiority; she's on the side of beards. She's a beard advocate. According to Saner, beards are everywhere — they're at the Oscars. They're at the Grammys, and not just on Mumford and his Sons. They're on your barber, the tattoo artist, the guy at the bike shop, the guy in the cubicle over, the bartender, the guy on the train, the guy you are having sex with, the guy you want to have sex with. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Etc. All the cool kids are growing furry sweaters on their faces.
"Beards, beards, beards," she writes. I agree. Beards.
But Saner warns that we may be reaching a "saturation point," that there is nowhere else for beards to grow, and that, simply due to the nature of trend life cycles, the next phase in male facial hair fashion won't hearken back to a simpler, more barn raising-intensive time. Since everyone has a beard now, soon the only way for a guy to distinguish himself will be to shave it all off and present his face to the world like a naked baby. Saner says the signs are there — in particular, one popular outdoor music festival that tends to predict man fashion featured fewer beards this year than in the past. (Plus, global warming. It's uncomfortable to have a furry face when the temperature of the air outside is hotter than it is inside your internal organs.)
I'm not disagreeing with Saner's observations; I'm just hoping against hope that she's wrong. I've only recently learned to appreciate a good beard, after years of actively hating them due to my latent, only recently cured bro-worship. My ex grew a beard as part of a Halloween costume and then kept it around after the turn of November, and I was a real jerk about how much I hated it — it scratched my face and I thought it looked weird. After we broke up, he grew a giant mountain man beard which I'm guessing he continues to expertly brandish. Godspeed to him and his beard. I was wrong.
It wasn't until after I started dating someone who had a beard all along earlier this year that I realized that beards are better than bros. In fact, I remember the specific day when I realized that I'd been turned into a beard enthusiast— I was on the G train headed from my old neighborhood in Brooklyn to meet up with a friend in Williamsburg (home to one of the world's most diverse and fascinating colonies of beards) when a man boarded the train that I couldn't stop staring at. He was tall, medium complected, had muscular forearms, and sported a well-maintained dark beard. Lust. Lust is what I felt. Lust after that magnificent beard. The next time I saw my bearded paramour, I told him the story. He thought it was pretty funny.
Thankfully, there's some hope — Saner spoke to the cofounder of Blue Tit Salon (a real place), who remarked that beards really grow on a guy (no pun intended) and become part of his identity. Once something is a part of a person's identity, it's hard to discard it as trends change. Further, as Dodai has written, SCIENCE says that women just find men with a little facial scruff hot. SCIENCE. Can't argue with SCIENCE.
So here's hoping beards remain a stylish option, that men are free to grow hair on their faces if they choose to do so without being ridiculed for being out of step with fashion. Beards and I have so many more adventures ahead of us. Everyone — except the women who can't stop touching the guys' smooth faces in razor commercials — is happier this way.