Man Over Beard

zz top 2

Face fuzz is so last week and Michael Hogan is eyeing the razor


It was during this spring’s Sport Relief telethon that I first heard the tolling of the beardy bell. Shane Lynch from Boyzone – you know, the lanky one who used to look like he’d run through Accessorise with his face covered in Copydex, then somehow reinvented himself as spiritual guru to Paul Danan and Calum Best on Celebrity Love Island – was sporting a voluminous hipster beard. A cross between Brian Blessed and a hillbilly serial killer – a tash-up, if you will – Shane’s newly-unveiled facial fuzz put Ronan and, um, you know, the other ones, firmly in the shade.


For the past couple of years, beards have been one of the distinguishing marks of the hipster, scenester and East London twat. The street food-munching, pop-up-attending, craft ale-supping, sleeve-tattooed, rolled-up-jeaned, barista-resembling, bike-riding “creative” who wanted to look less like a web designer and more like a member of a Brooklyn alt-rock combo or Amish artisan carpenter.


Such achingly “with it” bright young things liked it when a certain sort of male celeb appeared bearded: Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Dornan, David Beckham. All heart-throbs with enough cred to be cool. Surely, though, Shane off of Boyzone didn’t fit their brand values?


At politely middle-class festivals like Glastonbury, Latitude and Hay-On-Wye, beards had become as compulsory as wristbands, wellies and a smug expression. New Yorkers with patchy stubble started paying $8,000 for “facial hair transplants”. Other signs that the bristly dream was dying soon followed. Football love-rat Ashley Cole came off the Chelsea bench with a big old Captain Haddock. Attention-seekers began weaving flowers into their whiskers for the #beardgarden Tumblr trend. John Lewis ad dads and Jezza Paxman started wearing them. Perhaps inevitably, a University Of New South Wales study found that, confronted by a succession of bearded men, women actually find clean-shaven men more attractive.


In short, I fear we have indeed passed “peak beard”. Beards have jumped the shark – a bit like the phrase “jump the shark”, in fact. Razors are resurgent. Clean cheeks are chic. The chin is in.


So I really should shear mine off but I can’t quite bring myself to do it. We’ve been together for a couple of years now. I’m attached to it, both literally and emotionally. It’s like a fluffy pet: loyal, loving, happy to be stroked, partial to making a mess in the bathroom.


I’m worried what I’ll find underneath, too. Coins, fluff, Ferrero Rocher wrappers, biros and bits of fossilised food, like when you lift up a sofa cushion? As it’s summer, the skin under there will probably be all milky and porcelain, like a toddler’s squishy legs. So even when I do shave it off, I’ll have a pale “flesh beard”, like a facial version of the “flesh T-shirt” you get when your face and arms have baked in the sun but your torso hasn’t.


“Flesh beard” not only sounds deeply unattractive but also a bit rude. Might as well keep the real beard, then. At least until Justin Bieber, Postman Pat or Miley Cyrus grow one. Then it’s gone.




image credit: Alterna2 Flickr Creative Commons

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