Without Warning, A Growing Trend

Today’s post comes from Bill in Minneapolis

Seemingly out of nowhere, big beards have become a thing. You might argue that beards have been always with us and certainly that’s true for most of living memory, but those were primarily modest chin covers.

Beards do go in and out of fashion. Apparently, in the century between 1730 and 1830, beards were not only unfashionable but rigorously opposed. In 1830, a Massachusetts farmer named Joseph Palmer was jailed for over a year as a result of an incident stemming from his refusal to cut his beard. He was denounced from the pulpit and in the street.

The beards I’m talking about here are startling, exuberant, prodigious beards. Biblical beards. Beards that haven’t been exuded since the nineteenth century. Jefferson Davis chin ponytails. Rip Van Winkle beards. Jubilation T. Cornpone beards. And I wonder, what started all this and why did it spread so widely and across generations? I didn’t get the memo.

Now I would be the first to admit that I am generally out of the loop and even if I had been aware of the trend, I wouldn’t have been a participant. My own facial hair, should I grow it, would be more along the lines of Robert Bork’s and nobody needs to see that, ever again. But it makes me wonder what triggered the movement toward extravagant hirsuteness (hirsutity?).

I sort of felt the same way about tattoos, when they became a thing. They’re ubiquitous now and scarcely attract notice but I never understood why they became newly popular and what the attraction was in the first place. If you do, explain it to me.

What trends have taken you by surprise?

52 thoughts on “Without Warning, A Growing Trend”

        1. I got on Facebook to stay in touch with my kids. I enjoyed it more when it really was a way to keep up with what was happening in people’s lives, when people posted small and big happenings in their lives. Now it seems most people use it to repost or share internet articles, other people’s videos, and the status of some public figure. Bleh.

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  1. Few baboons are old enough to remember the time when close-cropped hair was associated with political conformity and longer hair and beards were a symbol of progressive politics. That’s what the musical Hair was all about. My parents had kept me in short “butch” haircuts throughout my childhood. Not until I got to college did I begin questioning the Republican party, short hair and pro-establishment thinking.

    As an angry young man in grad school, hating the Vietnamese war, I grew my hair out and adopted a beard. My mother had trouble with both. When her mother visited, my mother insisted the sight of my beard would be fatal for her mother. I shaved.

    Two years later I visited my grandmother. My mother predicted this would kill off her mother. That time I didn’t shave. Remarkably enough, my grandmother did not die.

    I now must contend with the embarrassment of being in fashion. I’d be ashamed of being au courant except for the fact I haven’t changed while fickle fashion has. I’m reminded of the time in the 1970s when lumberback shirts and “the LL Bean look” came into fashion. I had to tolerate being fashionable for a year or two before that parade passed and I was back to being happily unfashionable.

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    1. I remember the close-cropped hair and the long hippie hair (sometimes dirty, shaggy and unappealing). In my community parents and teens got into huge power struggles over hairstyles (long), pierced ears, and mini-skirts. Parents lost those struggles.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Podcasts! They have sorta replaced, or duplicated, live radio. And with this trend, I am on-board. I can listen to my favorite shows or podcasts when I have time. Most often this is in the evening as I unwind from a day of work, or during my studio time.

    When I flew back from Arizona April 3, I listened to S-town (the last 3 episodes) on the flight. I was happy and entertained by this freak show the entire flight.

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    1. Also the rise of Netflix and the other on-demand channels make it possible to completely bypass broadcast television and design your own programming if you wish.

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  3. Clothing trends never cease to amaze me, when I finally notice them. The 4, 5, (6, 7, 8?) inch heels, the gash-in-the-knee jeans… I saw a pear at Target where the gash was already patched (actually machine-darned, if you know what that means)… The brightly colored hair.

    I’m so out of the loop sometimes… had to look up S-town. And I’m still surprised to see so many heads bent down over their phones while walking down the street.

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    1. I still find tattoos mildly revolting, so you know I’m not often among young people. I even am stopped by fingernail polish that isn’t red. I try not to stare. I don’t judge people by these things, and yet since they still assault my eyes I have to make an effort to not react.

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      1. I’ve now met three people who’ve gotten a very special tattoo on their arms. One man, and two women. The tattoo reads, “Nevertheless, she persisted”, in tribute to what Mitch McConnell whined about when Elizabeth Warren refused to obey his order to shut up. Oh, if only I had the guts to endure a little pain!!

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        1. I love it, BiR! You are apparently like me, sounding out words in your head as you type. This is an initial safeguard against typos, but it fails when you type a homonym (a word that sounds the same but means something else). People like us can type “days of your” instead of “days of yore” and not necessarily catch the error because the word sounded right when we typed it.

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        2. If you ever type comments from your phone, it gets even more interesting. Sometimes I KNOW I type the word correctly, all the way to the end, but my “smart” phone decides it knows better than I do and changes the word.

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  4. I have a bit ratty beard, once red with my brown hair, now white with my white hair. Grown in an era of common beards with no political statement. I think about shaving it off, then look at price of shaving. Mr Tuxedo was so used to men with beards when he was a toddler that he shied away from clean shaven men but went eagerly to everyone else.

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  5. I think a lot of trends are just the constant quest for something new and different (i.e. the different colored fingernail polish Steve mentioned). It’s why we get recycled fashion trends – the upcoming generation hasn’t experienced it yet, so it’s time to bring it back. We’ve had the high heels with the thick platforms from the ups, and now we’re starting to get the chucky high heels (also from the 60s-70s). There will probably be some new twist to it, though.

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  6. I’m not a fan of shaving, but even less of a fan of beards, especially the super long ones. So I shave every other day.

    I guess the trend that surprises me is that of people disregarding health and safety in the name of convenience and cyber addiction. Driving or walking while distracted, sitting for hours in front of computer screens, phones, or video games at the expense of exercise or even simple movement, disdaining safety equipment like seat belts and bike helmets so they can look or feel “cool.”

    Ignorance may be bliss, but intentional ignorance is just plain stupid.

    Chris in Owatonna

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  7. Husband had a beard for a while when we were first married. It was as scratchy as a brillo pad, and very curly. He mercifully shaved it off after a month or so.

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  8. ahh the brotherhood of the beards
    the brotherhood of the tatoos
    the brotherhood or sisterhood (sorry ladies) is a marvelous thing to participate in. i often comment on ladies (occasioanlly men) and the neon colored hair they choose to wear. i love it. hot ponk magenta lais blue what couldbe more fun like wearing a hawaiian shirt but more so. free and loud with a civil disobedience sort of theme.
    my style has remained the same for a while. i met a friend who has known me forever (since mid 60’s anyway) and he remarked that not many people chose teir “brand” in high school and stuck with it. my hair beard and fashion have been on a scale or 1-10 about a 7 or 8 of the same theme for 50 years. i remember reading a book where the charachter was described as wearing a pair of slacks and a jacket that were complimentary colors of grey and beige with a sweater vest of an accent gray that made it look like where he came from every one dressed that way when in fact the style was his and his alone. i envisioned it and realised that we all have this sort of fundation to the way we approach the world and i felt at home in my wardrobe
    the beard like steve has been part of my deal since youth. i think i have been without it a total of 3 weeks since 1969. i now wear it in a more robust version than ever before but i am not a standout because it fits so succinctly ito my personna.
    the trends of the day are a fun thing to behold.
    i thought of blogs meetups writing groups masterminds as wonderful ways to cope with all that is inside wanting to get out. beards tatoos and stilletto heels are too an outward statement at an inner desire to make a statement
    face in te iphone is a way to be absorbed in a world of so much information it reminds me of being at a gourmet buffet with handmade pastries free for the taking and you need not overindulge because it will be there whan and if you choose to return. it is a marvelous time to be alive as i type from my bathtub in china to my friends in the midweast whaile liistening to yo yo ma play the bach cello concertos on the youtube station on my laptop after watching mozart in the jungle to fall asleep last night.
    life in 2017 is at a crossroads. yr thises days flowing hair and big beard and you have a hard time making an excuse for not being what you want. its all right there. and with a beard to boot. i noticed i have an air of the wild professor w ith the flowing hair, scholarly beard and tweedy sports coat and the beauty is that the brotherhood id in thd ability to reinvent the persona as it fits today with no fear of being a cast off.

    found a new partner yesterday to design vegan fashions out of no leather for handbags, shoes and belts. faux is one way to do it, high style alternatives is a way we will pursue. hope we can launch a new movement in not needing to wear leather.
    life is exciting at evey juncture.

    go forth and follow your calling

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  9. I fail to see the attraction of Twitter. It seems weird to restrict your thoughts to 140 characters, but also​ I don’t get the compulsion to share your thoughts continually. Why do people think others will be that interested? And I can’t see why one individual would want to follow hundreds of other people – the information overload would drive me crazy. And the fact that 45 uses Twitter so much makes it even less attractive to me.

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    1. Yes to destination weddings. And to many other wedding things – all those things that add up to a wedding that costs tens of thousands of dollars. SMH.

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  10. The bushy beards are a bit startling, after so many years of seeing men with facial hair in a little ring aroud the mouth, shaved at the sides. Someone told me this style of beard & mustache is known as “The Cop Killer”. It appears to be old-fashioned now.

    Not much surprises me. I’m a little mystified, though, at the modern day proliferation of nail salons. There’s one in every little strip mall. How do they all stay in business? Are there really that many women who want to have their nails done on a regular basis?

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  11. i think part of the attraction to the nail salon is the low entry level appeal of immigrants. the 1/2 35 dollar transaction is appealing. the ability to have a very low overhead is an easy start up.

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  12. coffee shops

    why people wait in line for 15 minutes to pay 5 dollars for a cup of coffee with sugar and whipped cream is not clear to me
    remember when french roast was exotic? 5 dollars a pound

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  13. I’m not a beard person. And I’m currently reading a biography of Rasputin; the description of his beard and how filthy it was (he was an atrociously messy eater) has made me even more wary of beards.

    The trend that surprises me is how wedded folks are to their phones but how much they don’t want to actually talk on them. YA can be standing right next to our house phone and let it ring until it goes to voicemail rather than pick it up to say “hello”.

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    1. I think about 75% of the calls we get are solicitations of one kind or another, so we never answer the phone unless we recognize the caller’s name or number. I expect that’s true of many people.

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  14. Hi–

    The man bun. It has to go. And never return. I hate them.

    Being at the college I see a lot of fashion statements. The colored hair no longer even warrants a second glance; purple, green, pink… whatever.
    The piercings: sometimes I have to ask about the random studs stuck in their face.
    I do still tell the guys when their pants are half way down their butt.
    And sometimes, just to tease someone a bit, I’ll tell them they got a thing on their lip. (or nose, ear, eyebrow).
    A few students have the bling on their teeth. I remember one kid saying everyone in his hometown has that. (he wasn’t from MN, that was clear).

    I currently have a beard. Trimmed real short now. I will probably shave it off soon. I’m lazy and don’t like to shave so I always have some stubble. Daughter hates the beard. Wife likes the trimmed version.
    In winter it keeps my face warm and that’s my only valid excuse for it. I mean besides the ‘I’m lazy’ bit…

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