Enlightened: The Hipster Beard Phenomenon
If you wear a full beard these days, you’ll quickly be labeled a hipster. But what makes a beard a so-called hipster beard? How did the trend come about and what does hipsterism itself stand for? We look behind a phenomenon that has kept public discourse on its toes for more than a decade.
Back to square one: where do hipsters come from?
When exactly hipsterism emerged is impossible to say in general terms. Nevertheless: Sometime around the beginning of the 2010s, the first hipsters suddenly appeared and steadily grew in number. Your drive: Individuality. Nonconformity. Self-determination.
Out of New York and into the world
Where did this trend start? In urban neighborhoods like New York’s Williamsburg. The full beard quickly advanced as a manifest antithesis to the clean-shaven mextrosexual style of the 2000s. But he was not confined to New York.
In no time at all, the trend from the Big Apple spilled around the world — thanks in no small part to the rising popularity of social networking. So it was inevitable that the hipster beard would become a cult status symbol here too.
Explosively, barbershops shot out of the ground like the Germans to the first free lounger at the pool in Mallorca. This was accompanied by special products for the beard — a trend that continues to this day.
All well and good: but what is a hipster beard now?
There are many myths and rumors about what the classic hipster beard is supposed to be anyway. Behind it, as already teased, is the full beard we are all familiar with. Alright, each of us defines a full beard differently — so does hipsterism. Because for a true hipster full beard, certain conditions must be met.
Away from the hippie image
Often hipster beards are confused with the hippie beards of ’68, in part because of the similarity of the terms. While both beard styles are based on the full beard, they are completely different. During the hippie era, it was all about wildness. This was reflected accordingly in the beards of the followers. Hippies mainly wore crazy intoxicating or frizzy beards, freely following the motto “go wild”.
The “proper” hippie
Hipster beards, on the other hand, represent the complete opposite of “go wild” beards. A proper trim and perfect styling are virtually part of the basic equipment. Complement the “neat” hippie with razor-sharp contours or a neatly trimmed upper lip beard. On top of that, there are some special editions that feature eye-catching pooplets or a crazy moustache (e.g. twirled).
Is the hipster beard just a fashion phenomenon?
The essence of most movements or trends is that they are usually triggered bysocio-political concerns. This was the case with the hippies. But does this translate to hipsterism and hipster beards?
The urge for individuality and self-determination
The hipster beard is also trying to strike a nerve here. On the one hand, the beard represents masculinity. Many men use the beard as a declaration of war on the emancipated image of women. So it goes back to the core of the male image that distinguishes man from woman. Of course, this is not to say that the emancipation of women is a bad thing!
Freedom and avoidance of uniformity
Rather, it is about the freedom to decide about oneself and to find and go one’s “own way“. The individuality aspect also finds great appeal in the hipster movement. No one wants to look the same and emancipate themselves from the tactical, clean-shaven male image. That this of course inevitably leads to a new standard mush is unclear to most.
What does the future uniform hipster porridge look like?
Garnished with a tablespoon of cinnamon and seasoned with a little yogurt, we should definitely be in for a culinary surprise. No, seriously, the beauty of the future is that no one knows what it will look like. What is certain, however: We’re getting our hipster one-size-fits-all mash (if we haven’t already). Why is that?
Scientific study reveals behavioral flow of nonconformists
In his scientific paper“The Hipster Effect: When Anticonformists All Look The Same“, a US scientist from Brandeis University states that the non-conformist behaviour of hipsters will synchronise and they will all develop in a largely similar way. The fact that this does not happen everywhere at the same time is mainly due to the fact that trends do not develop simultaneously. Rather, they come in spurts — until they eventually become mainstream. The New York hipster is perhaps no longer a hipster in the classical sense, while the men in Tokyo are just discovering the style for themselves and identifying with it. (No offense, dear men in Tokyo).
So while hipster beards are sprouting all over the world, the “beginning hipsters” will probably have already developed a new style for themselves. This could be, for example, the currently emerging moustache trend (independent of Movember). Or maybe we’re in for a whole new beard phenomenon. For us it’s clear: Hipster or not — the main thing is that you love your beard and feel comfortable. Regardless of how society tries to label you.