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What Is a Hipster Beard?

A hipster beard or mustache may be worn with the intention of being comical or ironic.
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  • Written By: J.E. Holloway
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 23 June 2014
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The hipster beard is a facial hairstyle that achieved popularity among the hipster subculture in late 2005 and early 2006. These beards can take a number of different forms, but, like most hipster fashion, they blur the line between an ironic celebration of unattractiveness and an attempt to impress by looking good. Within a few years of their introduction, hipster beards were already the target of a massive backlash, regarded by many as symptomatic of pretension. Despite this, this style of beard appears to have had some impact on the acceptability of facial hair among American males. Prior to this period, full beards had typically been worn only by older males, but the hipster style made them more acceptable to young men.

Hipster beards are diverse, but in general they are full and slightly scruffy, with a 'natural' appearance. A neatly-trimmed goatee, the most common form of mainstream facial hair for young men prior to the advent of the hipster beard, does not qualify. Style writers have described it as evoking a feel of scruffiness in order to project an anti-corporate image. Shaggy beards are incompatible with the image of corporate employment, evoking musicians, artists and other counterculture figures.

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Despite the generally rough appearance, growing a hipster beard requires a level of maintenance. Most beard wearers prefer to avoid growing a "neck beard," and therefore have to shave the upper part of the neck. Many wearers also trim the mustache around the mouth, stopping it from getting in the way of the lips. Some hipsters also cultivate traditional "handlebar" moustaches, which can require extensive grooming and styling.

Within a few years of the rise of the hipster beard, it had become one of the defining characteristics of the hipster. Kari Ferrell, who became known as the "Hipster Grifter" for obtaining a job at hipster mouthpiece Vice magazine under false pretenses, had a tattoo reading "I Love Beards." By the late 2000s, the beard had spread beyond the hipster subculture, with non-hipsters beginning to wear full, if usually neatly trimmed, beards.

The adoption of beards among non-hipsters was accompanied by a backlash against the hipster beard in some segments of the media and popular culture. By 2009, fashion writers were increasingly critical of the hipster beard, while many hipsters had come to regard the wearing of full beards by distinctly un-hip celebrities such as Sting as evidence that the trend had run its course. These reservations did not prevent full beards from being increasingly common as a fashion choice for young men.

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Discuss this Article

anon358309
Post 6

Excellent points Whiteplane. People are going to have to do a better job articulating their criticisms, otherwise they're just being a square.

For example: in my residence of DC, I feel like hipsters can be inauthentic, because few can actually afford rent, and the ones that do are professionals or government workers. So when you push past their exterior style, they are just as conservative and judgmental as anyone in Congress.

Also, because we have a punk influence, these hipsters tend to absorb and reflect the alienation they feel. So they can be cold, and not that fun to talk to. This is in stark contrast to the bohemians I encounter in small college towns, which I find much more pleasant.

anon330425
Post 5

Hipsters are the worst breed of tool known to mankind. They are sincere only in their insincerity toward anything. They don't wear old-timey mustaches unless they are seen wearing them. So no, hipsters don't have it rough. Those cornballs deserve every slap across their stupid faces that they can get.

tigers88
Post 3

I have always thought that the hipster beard was just a scruffy, short beard. Kind of like the look you would achieve if you didn't shave for a week and a half. It conveys a cavalier attitude about grooming and personal appearance and a carefree disconnection from a polite society that would not permit such an unkempt look.

whiteplane
Post 2

You know, I feel like hipsters kind of have it rough. They get made fun of all the time and people love to dismiss them as privileged, oblivious, vapid people obsessed with the meaningless trappings of style. And while all of this is true, none of this is new. I don't see any difference between current hipster culture and the youth culture of the 80s or the 60s or even the 40s

Tight pants, wild hair styles, dance music, beer and cigarettes, the youthful feeling of being bigger and better than everyone else. How is any of this unique? We should give the hipsters a break. They will grow out of it eventually.

Ivan83
Post 1

I have a friend who wears the quintessential hipster mustache. It is very long and he carefully waxes it every day. He ends up looking like a 19th century industrialist.

He looks ridiculous and I have not been shy about telling him that. He doesn't care though. He lives for irony. If it doesn't to make sense he loves it. If only he could commit to something more meaningful in his life.

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