Few men’s grooming choices are as controversial or attention-grabbing as the beard. Throughout history, its public image has shifted several times. At some stages, certain beard styles represented distinguished men of power. At others, beards were symbols of the counterculture. These days, depending on who you ask, beards represent a trend and a desire to fit in. A quick scan of Quora reveals that guys with beards are stereotyped as everything from homeless men to terrorists to lumberjacks. Beard stereotypes run rampant in popular culture and it’s time to break the biggest ones down once and for all.
The Lumberjack Stereotype
Social media is the culprit behind the lumberjack obsession. A stream of bearded Instagram users has dressed up in red flannel shirts, suspenders and dark denim to chop wood. All for show. The assumption is that men with beards are manly, and the lumberjack is the ultimate expression of that. However, there are probably more lumberjacks on Instagram than in the real world. A 2014 estimate suggests there are only 54,000 of these wood-chopping dudes in all of America. And the number is expected to decrease by 4% considering the advancement of technology. Suddenly, it’s not all that cool to be a lumberjack anymore.
The Dumb Stereotype
Some of society’s older conservative members still remember the days of the counterculture when bearded guys smoked weed and laid on the lawn all day. They still assume that guys with beards are unmotivated and unintelligent. That’s simply not true. Some of the most successful men in the world are proudly bearded. George Clooney, David Beckham, Ben Affleck, Idris Elba—should I continue? These men are the opposite of listless. They’re mega successful, and their beards are part of the package.
The Homeless Stereotype
Guys with longer beard styles are often accused of looking homeless. Those people have no idea how much beard grooming and jojoba beard oil goes into maintaining a full Gandalf. For a beard to grow that long, it takes patience and maintenance. Long doesn’t necessarily equal homeless. If that man’s beard is soft, untangled and sprinkled with a light sheen, he’s anything but homeless. Hollywood has ingrained the image of the dirty, bearded homeless man into our minds. But just like the superhero, the doting wife and the hopeless romantic, that one image isn’t representative of everyone. Remember the Pursuit of Happyness? Will Smith’s Chris Gardner was homeless for almost the entire film and never had more than stubble. That was based on a true story—think about that.
The Hipster Stereotype
Perhaps the second most common word mentioned in reference to bearded men is ‘hipster’. While it’s true that hipsters probably hopped on the beard grooming train before the rest of us, the same could be said for everything. That’s the purpose of a hipster—to become a champion of popular things before they’re popular. There’s no way bearded men today could be considered hipsters because beards are way too mainstream for that. Hipsters have moved on to something next-level at this point. Sandalwood & vanilla beard oil? They’ve probably started shaving designs in their faces by now.
The Gay Stereotype
This might be the stereotype that’s the biggest stretch. Believe it or not, some men with beards are pegged as gay. A well-groomed beard receives the scrutiny of many. But a medicine cabinet full of beard products isn’t an accurate representation of sexuality. Proper beard grooming helps avoid gross problems like dandruff and irritation. If anything, people should be worried about the guy who doesn’t groom at all.
The Truth About Beard Styles & Stereotypes
Beards don’t indicate anything about the guy other than his love of facial hair. Beard styles don’t make a guy a lumberjack, a hipster, an idiot, a homeless man or gay. They just make him bearded. But about those clean shaven guys…