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?