Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hipster Beard: Trendy or Face Mullet?

Admittedly, I’m oblivious to fashion. For example, I just recently noticed that mullet haircuts are no longer in style. Not that I currently have, or have ever had, a mullet. I mean, I’m oblivious to fashion, but I’m not blind. Even back during the 1990s, when mullets were fashionable in certain circles, I mostly snickered when I saw guys with that big, rectangular shock of hair hanging down from the back of their heads. The other day I was watching a movie from the ‘90s, and I noticed many of the characters sported mullets. I said to myself, “Oh wow, I haven’t seen hair like that in a long time — thank goodness!”

Anyway, the point of my mullet musings is to explain that I’m oblivious to fashion. So what I’m about to discuss may be a new fashion trend, or it may be something that’s been around for a while and I’m just finally noticing. I speak, of course, about the hipster beard, which for many guys looks suspiciously like a mullet, except in the front. Maybe we should call it the “face mullet.”

Who decided that it is now cool to look like a Civil War general — but with a pork pie hat and an iPhone rather than a felt Stetson and a saber? Also, I don’t think too many Civil War generals wore skinny jeans and orange Converse All-Star sneakers. But you never know, maybe there was an artillery regiment from the Silicon Valley.

Everywhere you go these days, you see big, bushy hipster beards on young people, mostly men. And as the name implies, the beard makes one hip. I guess even if one is 34 years old and still living in his mother’s basement and working part-time at Starbucks, having that face mullet means he is hip. After all, it’s not his fault the economy is sluggish, and who knew the guidance counselor at school was a tad bit optimistic when she said a Master’s degree in Angst Studies would guarantee a high-paying job?

Hipster beards seem like a lot of work. Yes, I know the guys don’t have to shave each day anymore, but I bet there is still a lot of trimming and grooming involved. There’s a fine line between the hipster look and the homeless look. Civil War generals had big bushy beards mostly because they lived in tents for months at a time, and shaving was rather difficult, especially when enemy artillery shells were exploding all around you. What you can’t see in those old black-and-white still photos from the Civil War are the many beard hitch-hikers: the bugs that found a delightful home in that big ol’ bundle of chin hair. Eww!

So by the time a guy trims and grooms, then combs out food particles and sprays on insecticide, it would’ve been quicker to do a daily shave, like we unhip guys.

Because I am oblivious to fashion, this essay might be five years too late. Maybe the face mullet, I mean, the hipster beard is no longer cool. Fashion is a funny thing. When one person does something unique, he or she is odd. When a handful of people do the same unique thing, it is suddenly trendy and fashionable. But when many people say, “I want to be unique, just like everyone else,” then it’s time for a refresher course on the definition of “unique.”

So maybe the hipster beard is about to go the way of the much-maligned mullet. On the other hand, I came of age in the 1970s, so I’m the last person to be offering any opinion about fashion. Now, where did I leave my lime green leisure suit?

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