I saw my baby wearing Zach G.'s beard.
March 24, 2010 10:18 AM   Subscribe

So, this hipster beard thing that's going around. Did it start with Zach Galifianakis, or were there other origins?
posted by I EAT TAPAS to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
i thought it was always more of "yeah, i don't give a fuck, women still want me" then inspired by anything. Of course things like beard competitions and the culture that is being made surrounding beards makes it a badge of honor. It's like your laziness can make you cool, or a low price (as in free) accesory to the whole hipster lifestyle.

I hate shaving, but i hate having my face itch even more.
posted by djduckie at 10:22 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sam Beam of Iron and Wine (which has been around since 2002) has always sported a bushy beard. He is/was popular with the hipsters, so there's some concrete evidence this predates Zach Galifianakis. I think the whole "plaid indie mountain man" thing in general is not that new.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:23 AM on March 24, 2010


I saw hipsters rockin' bushy beards around the mid 90s. Nothing new under the sun, son.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:26 AM on March 24, 2010


Beards are timeless. Sure the popularity comes and goes, but facial hair will always be a classic for me.
posted by corpse at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This hyar hipster timeline puts the beard apex around 2006. I know that's when I grew my first one (note: I do not consider myself a hipster) and I felt like there were already a lot of guys around with beards, so I obviously wasn't at the front of any trend. I also had never heard of Zach Galifianakis at that point.

I know this may or may not be helpful. I just felt the need to comment because I'm sad. I'm lonely. I shaved my beard off last night and I'm not sure it was the right decision.
posted by komara at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


On a personal note as a beard-having hipster I can honestly say that the whole beards make you hip thing caught me by surprise.

I'm just really really lazy. Anybody that's doing it for any reason besides sheer laziness is seriously trying too hard.
posted by bookwo3107 at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Zach G. has been a profesional comedian since the late 1990's and had his first Comedy central special in either 1999 or 2000 (The closing sequence, featuring a "chior of his ex-girlfriends" singing eternal flame while he discusses why his relationships always fail via giant pad, is amazing (and on youtube)).
posted by djduckie at 10:32 AM on March 24, 2010


But I think it's safe to say he didn't become well known outside of the stand-up comedy circuit until a few years ago, djduckie, so it's unlikely he started the beard trend.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2010


Will Oldham, perhaps?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Theory - if so much of alt culture as being in opposition to mainstream then beards became "hip" right when shaving became the norm for office workers and professionals. Exuberant face hair has been linked with hipness since at least the beatniks (goatees anyone?)
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I started having a beard about as soon as I could grow one. I think part of the "fashion" is that it is tolerated. If I got crap personally or professionally I would likely shave every day. The acceptability of having a beard is really high right now and as others have noted is very very easy.

It has Not always been the Case
posted by French Fry at 10:46 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


As to the rise in bushy beards among Modern Hipsters, I'd point at The Royal Tenenbaums before I pointed at Galifianakis.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:58 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Walt Whitman
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:02 AM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


The Whelk's theory holds more water than pointing to any one iconic figure. Facial hair signifies distinction from the clean-cut bourgeois. The full beard of a Nordic viking would not go over well if you worked in an ER or at Goldman Sachs. See also: visible tattoos, motorcycles (both bike and regalia), piercings, mohawks, and long hair on men.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:08 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding Will Oldham, especially once he started his "Bonnie Prince Billy" persona.
posted by zombiedance at 11:12 AM on March 24, 2010


I think it's pretty much essential that any trend popularized by major-city hipsters requires a celebrity to gain prevalence elsewhere--I'm thinking Kate Moss/leggings and Ashton Kutcher/the damn trucker's hat. However, "celeb" mean different things... er, people to different people. This 2005 article cites Russell Crowe and Matthew McConaughey but I highly doubt most of my bearded friends (most of whom have a predilection for listening to math rock, riding fixies, and watching films featuring anyone but the likes of Crowe and McConaughey) were inspired by Hollywood guys... The trend started way earlier than that. It was probably influenced by the hipsters who enjoy artists like Devendra Banhart and Will Oldham as much for their music as their facial hair. Then the celebs got into it, and now guys who follow the celebs and who don't have office jobs are into it. So, sub-culture people --> other sub-culture people --> mainstream celebs --> yuppies.
posted by Menomena at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2010


Facial hair signifies distinction from the clean-cut bourgeois.

Sure, but different types of people (from different times) glom onto different types of facial hair. The Big Bushy Beard and the Strongman Mustache are associated with hipsters. Why not muttonchop sideburns, or those long chin spinachy beards, or a walrus-looking mustache? What caused the beard to get so much more popular than other types of facial hair?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:21 AM on March 24, 2010


Yes, but facial hair was previously not really a part of the "indie" hipster culture that has roots going to back to post-punk, punk, and the Velvet Underground. Facial hair was previously considered a crunchy, granola hippie thing.

I'm also voting for Will Oldham.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:25 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I come from the open source/Linux/Unix culture, where giant unkempt throat beards are the norm among men. In that culture, they exist (or purport to exist) because their bearers cannot be bothered with such pittances as the nuances of social convention or personal grooming.

The giant throat beard says "I have more important things to do than preen and chase vanity every morning." It also says "I am valuable even with this hideous thing on my face, so clearly I have mad skillz."

I always assumed the hipster beard stemmed from the same kind of posturing.

(Bonus round: men who shave their heads clean, and grow giant unkempt throat beards, for the exact same reason. "It's easiest." I have always been fascinated by this contradiction.)
posted by ErikaB at 11:36 AM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


(Bonus round: men who shave their heads clean, and grow giant unkempt throat beards, for the exact same reason. "It's easiest." I have always been fascinated by this contradiction.)

One does not have to comb a beard every morning, or worry about putting product in a beard, or style a beard, especially not the (UGH) throatbeard. It still all falls under the Least Maintenance Principle.
posted by komara at 12:33 PM on March 24, 2010


Wake up hung over from parties on a daily basis and see where shaving ranks on the "to do" list.
posted by griphus at 12:35 PM on March 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Your username 'I EAT TAPAS' made me laugh. Tapas are a huge fad downtown with the hipster crews where I live.

My suggestion is to check the American Apparel catalogs... are they selling beards this year?
posted by Gainesvillain at 12:52 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, but different types of people (from different times) glom onto different types of facial hair. The Big Bushy Beard and the Strongman Mustache are associated with hipsters. Why not muttonchop sideburns, or those long chin spinachy beards, or a walrus-looking mustache? What caused the beard to get so much more popular than other types of facial hair?

Beard = ease. Cop stache = irony. The rest take more effort or aren't as funny.
posted by josher71 at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2010


Rather than any one celebrity or indie icon, I suspect it sprung from the "salt of the earth" / authenticity obsessions of hipster culture. You've got the guys wearing John Deere hats and drinking PBR and wearing plaid, and eventually you ask how you can take the image one step further. The all-too-obvious answer is to grow a nice, bushy beard.
posted by naju at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Of course, the origins are not so important now. They're a trend, and they're also acceptable in all but the most white-shoe of work environments, so everyone and their mother is sporting one.)
posted by naju at 12:59 PM on March 24, 2010


Late 60's, late 70's, early to mid 90's and now again...lasts about three years, then everyone gets tired of it and gets clean shaven or sports little face topiaries again. One look that I'm glad never reappeared was the "cop mustache" of the mid 70's. (Except among the gay community.) Saying that probably jinxes me to see it come back next month.
posted by telstar at 1:02 PM on March 24, 2010


i remember the boys of denton, tx participating in beard-core going back to about 2001, i think, maybe earlier. we always talked about the "break-up beard", the one that guys grow after a hard relationship - you have one or two guys growing their break-up beard, plus the last parts of winter and earliest parts of spring - and in texas you know that it's about to be hot as fuck, so if you're going to grow a beard, now is the time (or, conversely, it's october and it is finally not hot as fuck and you can grow your first beard of the season!)! then you sit around the bar and talk about the break-up beard or the last beard of the season and suddenly a week later, all your guy friends are growing a beard and comparing lengths.
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess the answer here would depend upon what counts as a hipster. I don't see that Galifianakis really qualifies. I'd say that the full beard has become more popular of late with men in general. I certainly notice it more, across class and sub-cultural lines. If that's the case, then pretty much any celebrity choosing to wear a beard is going to be a model for widespread imitation, especially among fans of that celebrity, just as Cobain was an inspiration for the Van Dyke.
posted by wheat at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2010


Socrates was the original bearded hipster.

He hung around without a real job, expounding on esoteric niceties ad nauseum, generally pissing people off with his attitude of over-educated slack, until they started saying "Can't we just kill this guy?".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:06 PM on March 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Definitely no Galifianakis. It definitely started with the band. Or George Harrison. Or Richard M. Stallman. Or Jesus. When exactly did this long-hair-on-women thing start?
posted by tmcw at 1:12 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see that Galifianakis really qualifies.

Not that this is red-handed proof exactly, but he does mention naming his testicles "Belle" and "Sebastian".
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, but different types of people (from different times) glom onto different types of facial hair. The Big Bushy Beard and the Strongman Mustache are associated with hipsters. Why not muttonchop sideburns, or those long chin spinachy beards, or a walrus-looking mustache? What caused the beard to get so much more popular than other types of facial hair?

The hipsters are sporting muttonchops and walrus-looking 'staches in Austin, Texas. I think it's going to be the next wave in hipster facial hair. Irony is always big among the hipsters.

Indie rock dudes/hipsters have had beards at least since the mid-'90s
posted by ishotjr at 1:20 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not consider myself a hipster

You may be. Do hipsters know that they are hipsters?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:30 PM on March 24, 2010


The only real reason why I grew a beard last November, was because I was lazy, I didn't want to shave everyday. in February, I shaved it off. immediately hated it, and started growing it back asap.

I'll live with the itchy face, if I don't have to shave everyday. I do trim it, and keep up the neatness of it.

Plus my wife likes it.
posted by edmcbride at 1:45 PM on March 24, 2010


First time I noticed the resurgent beard thing was definitely Will Oldham, then various members of the local Vancouver band Black Mountain ...

But the resurgence of facial hair goes back to Tarantino movies, doesn't it? Didn't Quentin even sport a stache for a while back in the 90s?
posted by philip-random at 3:32 PM on March 24, 2010


It's all just an attempt to look like 1970s George Lucas, in protest of 2000s George Lucas' work.
posted by The World Famous at 3:38 PM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


When exactly did this long-hair-on-women thing start?

He's not asking when beards became popular, period, but when a specific sort of bushy beard became trendy for the hipster crowd.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:20 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right, during the early 20th century face hair was expected (I have a lovely book from a scluptuer who grew up during that time and holds a grudge against "baby faced office-men" without beards) on men of a certain class. At some point, I wanna say the 1920s-30s beards became a symbol of Old World, Old Money, Old Fashionness. Which is to say Not Modern. There are a bunch of ideas about why this happened, from just fashion to the growing Hygienic movement (Beards were thought to be unhealthy cause they carried dust/germs), to a growing worship of youth to whatever. At about that time the idea of a "modern man" or a "normal man" changed from having to a beard to being clean-shaven, and since then not being clean-shaven has been connected to being outside the norm, alternative, "arty", or fustly old fashioned. It's a pretty easy indicator for men that they're being "not normal" ether as a side thing (the breakup beard, the tradition of not shaving after a death in some circles) or a cultural thing, like with the Linux wizards and various types of hip/beat/bohemian whatevers.
posted by The Whelk at 4:48 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It definitely started with the band. Or George Harrison.

Well, then you'd have to go back to Ronnie Hawkins--or even Allen Ginsberg via Bob Dylan--for the former, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi--or even Allen Ginsberg via A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada--for the latter. Ginsberg, basically.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:56 PM on March 24, 2010


Right, during the early 20th century face hair was expected (I have a lovely book from a scluptuer who grew up during that time and holds a grudge against "baby faced office-men" without beards) on men of a certain class.

Hm, are you sure about this? According to Wikipedia, Benjamin Harrison (March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893) was the last bearded president. He was succeeded by Grover Cleveland (mustache), William McKinley (cleanshaven), Teddy Roosevelt (mustache), William Howard Taft (mustache), Woodrow Wilson (March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921, cleanshaven), and then everybody after them is cleanshaven.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:35 PM on March 24, 2010


I think it fits, clean-shaven happens after 1930 roughly, and I think the switchover to Clean-Shaven=Modern was probobly more like 1880 than 1920 but these things are fuzzy. I think the more important detail is that we haven't had a hairy president since. The idea took hold, so the anti-dea is now, and has been, a returning fad to connotate "hipness".
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 PM on March 24, 2010


Actually clean shaven == modern goes back a lot further, given Peter the Great's beard tax (circa 1698).
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:08 PM on March 24, 2010


I mean around 1700, the Czar of Russia wanted his subjects to shave their beards and look modern. Not sure when the beard shaving started in western Europe.
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:11 PM on March 24, 2010


Solon and Thanks is correct -- I was looking for a specific type of beard that has recently begun to be worn by a specific social class. I was previously aware of Zeus, Jesus, Rasputin, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, John Lennon, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Stallman, The Amazing Randi, and many other bearded men in history. Thanks, Solon and Thanks. Thanks.

But with the assistance and insight of all of those who mentioned Will Oldham, I was able to recall a moment in 2006 where I saw Oldham and Galifianakis, both for the first time, on the same TV show together. It was Wonder Showzen, Episode 207, "Horse Apples" -- a mockery of Hee-Haw and mountain man comedy. This, my friends, was the true genesis of the hipster mountain man beard! Wonder Showzen, what have you done?

Oldham and Galifianakis then in 2007 appeared in an alternate version of Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" video, spreading this hipster beard to those who may not have caught the Wonder Showzen episode.

I give myself best answer.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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