While many of the latest innovations in human ingenuity are on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, The New York Times has stumbled upon a hot, new trend: beards. Finally, in 2014 A.D., we have made the beard available to everyone.
The beard, until recently the scruffy fashion statement of the plaid-shirt-and-craft-beer creative underclass, has lately been institutionalized, co-opted by The Man not only in the form of pinstripe-clad Beltway insiders, but by Wall Street titans, professional sports golden boys, Us Weekly cover boys and morning-show television hosts.
As everyone knows, beards are the chief export of Brooklyn, cultivated in an exposed-brick warehouse loft and then transported around the globe. Until recently, the SEC prohibited beards in any form, which explains their absence on Wall Street, where many traditional signifiers of virility and masculinity are frowned upon.
Goldman Sachs head Lloyd Blankfein gets a nice ribbing for his hipster beard that he brought to Davos last year. Is he "thinking of taking up organic farming and the banjo?" It's not like beards were ever a shorthand for signifying malevolence or villainy. Hans Gruber was just an honest guy trying to make a buck.
"We demand equal beard rights!" the brave, hirsute men bellow from the halls of Congress and on the trading floors of the NASDAQ. No longer did they have to grow their beards in silence or behind closed doors, fearing their secret shame.
It used be frowned upon for men in power to have a beard. Have you ever seen a painting of God or Jesus sporting a beard? No, because beards are—sorry, were—a sign of the weak.
These days, however, the beard is the red carpet accessory of choice for the contemporary pretty boy, which is why BuzzFeed recently had no problem rounding up a full 51 of the “hottest bearded men in Hollywood,” including Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Robert Pattinson and four dozen others.
Often, when a celebrity grows a beard, it's a sign they're aiming for Oscar glory. It's definitely not like some men can just go a week or two without shaving and that's how a beard grows. Finding pictures of bearded celebrities certainly is hard, because growing a beard is hard and almost nobody photographs celebrities.
A fun fact about beards: did you know that each human can only grow one beard in their lifetime? Once you shave off a beard, it can never grow back. YOBO: You Only Beard Once.
The Times argues that the beard is a clear sign of anti-establishment ideals, a sign of rebellion. Only a handful of presidential portraits have beards, and the leaders sporting beards are the most rebellious ones in history. The bearded Abraham Lincoln? He loved rebels. Show me one rebellion that Abraham Lincoln opposed. That's right; you can't.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.