The age of the metrosexual is over. Dead and buried. From Seattle to Austin to Charleston, American men are ushering in a new golden age of hirsute pursuits.
Stroll down Anystreet, USA, and it is easy to notice — Beards Are Back. I am not talking about the Miami Vice-style five o'clock shadow or a "nice" short goatee. I am talking full blown beards. Epic, mythical, legendary, enormous beards. The kind of beard you only thought wizards wore.
Yes, you read right, beards. And no, beard is not a dirty word, and shaving has nothing to do with being "clean."
How in the world did this happen, you ask? You thought in the future men would be hairless? Well, you thought wrong.
For inspiration American men have not looked to Madison Avenue or Gillette for ideas about what they should look like. Instead, the beard as a new style and fashion has taken a page from the past while charting a new course for the future of masculinity.
If you examine any vintage photo collection of men, you will undoubtedly be impressed with the variety and uniqueness of the styles of facial hair worn over a century ago — back when there was no such thing as air conditioning. The bearded men of this era were the political, economic, and community leaders of their time. They easily seem much more sophisticated, mature, and distinguished when compared to the plastic, waxed men presented in the mass media today.
Naysayers might say it's just a trend, but in reality it's a way of life and self-expression. To be more specific, it is rugged American individualism. Isn't that what made this country great? The current hirsute movement is a return to traditions, values, and a sense of history missing from our culture in recent years.
Count the tattoos you see on folks pumping iron or running on the treadmill at your local fitness center. Chances are you don't give those tattoos a second thought. That is because tattoos have gone mainstream. Heck, they're even legal in the Palmetto State. I would bet a majority of the soccer moms you know have tattoos. But how many men do you know who have big, bushy beards?
The beard stands out in the crowded sea of Abercrombie & Fitch conformity that is America today. These are the individuals who have reclaimed their masculinity in a direct backlash against metrosexuality and the feminization of the modern man. Beards are the free, natural accessory given to men to enhance their looks.
Personally, my beard history dates back to when I grew my first one, an exam beard during college. In those days I would occasionally shave until I started to keep a beard more regularly. I knew in August of 2004 when I took a razor to my face that it would be my last shave. Over the last five years I transformed from a "guy with a beard" to a "beard with a guy." My beard has become my trademark and most identifiable feature.
In the winter of 2006, I read an article about the Beard and Moustache Club of North Carolina having monthly pub nights in Greensboro. If North Carolina could have a beard club and get publicity, why couldn't Charleston? I knew we could do it better.
Reading that article led to the creation of the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society (www.myspace.com/holycitybeardsociety). In the beginning we were just a virtual community with a cool logo, an original theme song, some local press coverage, and lots of crazy beard pictures. Over time came the suggestions to move from the virtual world to real-time meetings such as pub nights.
We have now been around for over two years, and pub nights have anywhere from 15 to 30 folks. People come out of the woodwork for pub nights and bring friends, spouses, girlfriends, even curiosity seekers. We have a great group of artists, musicians, students, salty dogs, and academics. The reason the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society is successful has nothing to do with one person or clique. It is successful because the city of Charleston has the most wonderful, talented, and giving group of citizens anywhere in the county.
Due to this fact, the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society has been involved with local charities by hosting a back-to-school night in August. We've collected supplies for a local underserved school, canned goods for the Lowcountry Foodbank, and children's books and pajamas for Lowcountry orphans.
We are an official chapter of Beard Team USA and the best beard and moustache club in America. From the feedback we receive from other beard clubs (which are sprouting like wildfire nationwide), we are the gold standard many other clubs strive to obtain. Thanks Charleston, and join us for pub night anytime.
And remember, "Men of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your razors and your beards to gain."