Matt’s View: Beard trend is overdue a close shave

Brian Blessed's beard is in a league of its own Brian Blessed's beard is in a league of its own

Sunday, June 22, 2014
12:01 PM

Over the last few months I’ve been feeling increasingly naked.

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Not literally you understand; that would be a nasty surprise for anyone visiting the Crow offices. No, my nudity is consigned to the area of my face below my nose.

Because, unlike most other men of my age, I don’t possess any facial hair. There was a time when having a beard would mark you out as unusual, but over the last year or two it seems to have become the norm to have some kind of hairy growth sprouting from your chin.

I’ve never actively tried to grow a beard before (unless not shaving for a few days counts?), mainly because I fear it would make me look like my dad. But I like to live on the edge, so last week decided to take the plunge and see what would happen. Alas, it turns out that when it comes to beard cultivation, I’m not in Brian Blessed’s league; the result of six days of not shaving was a pathetic, barely visible line of stubble that would have shamed a pre-pubescent teenager. Given time it may have, at best, formed the basis of a respectable goatee, but I wasn’t about to wait around to find out, and it fell victim to my razor.

In a way I was pleased because I really fail to see the attraction of beards.

There are good examples out there, but more often than not they look a mess, and it’s a thin line between the bushy yet fashionable ‘hipster beard’ and it’s less popular brother – the unruly and scruffy vagrant beard.

Psychologists have argued that men with beards look older (well, duh) and more aggressive, but for me the opposite is true. Take Jeremy Paxman, a recent exponent of the beard, as an example. When he’s firing out his trademark rapid-fire questions on Newsnight, do interviewees fear him more if he has fur on his face? Seems unlikely. If anything he looks less intimidating and more relaxed and jovial. Father Christmas has a beard, and who has ever found him aggressive or virile? I rest my case.

If, like me, you’re not a fan of facial hair, there could be light at the end of the tunnel, with scientists in Australia suggesting we may have reached “peak beard” – the point at which the beard trend is so common it becomes unattractive.

Professor Rob Brooks, from the University of New South Wales’ biology department, said: “Beards diminish in value when everyone is wearing them, a fact that suggests that the hipster beard, like the handlebar moustache, the mutton chop and countless other fashions before them, will, in time, pass.”

No doubt razor manufacturers around the world will join me in hoping his prediction comes true.

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