Grizzly beards

by Toby Manhire / 14 July, 2013
Will Self hates the things, but surely face carpet is not all bad?
A beard, pictured with David Cunliffe.

Will Self is raging against the beards.

Specifically, the elaborate beards being sported by young men: their “full-blown, late-Victorian and Edwardian beards, complete with curling and often waxed mustachios”.

These “evanescent things, ever on the point of flying away”, shudders Self in the New Statesman, “bear no discernible relation to the faces they have taken root in”.

The beard is intended by nature, Self asserts, to disguise something – be it an unsightly dimple, a scar, an incriminating expression.

And yet, “these barbellates-nouvelles are quite different; what they have to hide is, counterintuitively, nothing at all”, he writes, while, presumably, stroking his clean-shaven chin.

What really troubles Self is the “manifest insincerity” of such adornments.

These jejune middle-class chaps are the sort who get up in the morning, look in the shaving mirror, and seeing a tabula rasa for a face, get the foggy, fourth-hand notion that a bit of hairy scribbling will make them look “creative”.


For a more romantic account of beardedness, try this from poet Donald Hall, who describes the three beards of his life (“a woman has instigated each beard”).

At the New Yorker, he writes: “My present hairiness is monumental, and I intend to carry it into the grave.”


I shudder to think, meanwhile, what this video of “fauxhemian” New Yorkers explaining their beards might do to Self’s blood pressure.

It’s called “Hipsters: Your Beards Are Gross” (via Gawker):

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