The Beard Eternal Is

So with the Red Sox victory last night, it’s official: beards are in.

(Non-baseball fans relax: this isn’t a baseball post.)

As with many fashions, the popularity of beards has waxed and waned. At its most recent nadir, beards were relegated to domain of the hard-core computer geek. In 1995, “Dilbert” introduced the beard-wearing “condescending UNIX computer user“.

Around that same time, I was doing a tech support job. My friend in the next cubicle was having trouble with a call: the client’s printer refused to work. Finally, in frustration, she asked my friend if he had a beard. When he admitted that he did not, she asked if he could transfer her to someone who did. Since I wasn’t on a call at the time, he conferenced me in. I walked her through exactly the same troubleshooting steps that he had previously had her try, and wonder of wonders, the printer began to work. The legend of the beard was born.

1995 also saw the creation of the Beard Liberation Front, an informal network of pro-beard lobbyists. Since 2000, the BLF, a British organization, has named an annual “Beard of the Year” award winner, garnering a small, but increasing amount of recognition for the contributions the bearded have made to society.

The pendulum began to swing toward increased beard-acceptance in 2003 when David Malki ! (yes, the exclamation point is part of his name; he considers it to be an honorific) began a stealth beard-promotion campaign behind the facade of his webcomic Wondermark. The strip uses original 19th Century woodcuts as source material, and its many elegantly-bearded characters have done much for the cause. Admittedly, its many inelegantly-bearded characters have done nearly as much damage to the cause, but no campaign of this magnitude can go forward without some interruption. Still, the invention of the Emergency Beard may have almost unquestionably saved lives, perhaps.

The next major landmark in the growth of beard-acceptance was Brian Wilson’s “Fear the Beard” campaign during the Giants’ 2010 championship season. Out of respect for the non-baseball fans in the audience, I will refrain from elaborating.

In 2012, beards truly hit the mainstream in conjunction with the runaway success of the Duck Dynasty television show. The backwoods haven’t gotten so much screen time since The Beverly Hillbillies left the airwaves in 1971, and beards haven’t gotten so much screen time since the post-1990 decline of ZZ Top.

That brings us to today. The Red Sox are idols of the nation, leading a wave of celebratory beard-tugging. If you’re feeling left out due to an innate inability to grow a beard, Beard Head will be delighted to sell you a beard hat in any of two dozen styles.

Need a handy supply of liquids to get you through the day? Pick yourself up a Beer Beard and sip your way to success.

Even Madison Avenue is succumbing to BeardMania: Beardvertising is drawing some serious media attention to it’s clients: A&W Restaurants, Eagle One Automotive, and, inevitably, Dollar Shave Club. Yes, that’s right, a company devoted to selling razor blades is advertising on beards.

Of course, no trend lasts forever, and the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way. Beard Hats will be retired, beards will be shaved, and some other fashion will take their place. But for right now, beard-wearers are enjoying their moment in the sun.

Beards: long may they wave!

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