Beards are back! On men, anyway. Maybe they never went away.
I first noticed this recent outbreak of rampant chinwaggery among Premier League footballers who, having run out of arms to tattoo, have led the way in an explosion of follicular luxuriance not seen since the heady (literally) days of the 70s, when the ever-popular but heavily manicured tache yielded to the full hunter-gatherer face jacket favoured by the likes of Trevor Hockey and Kenny Burns.
As soon as the previously cleanshaven Roy Keane went all Grizzly Adams on us with a two-toned bushel that only deepened the death stare above, the trend went mainstream, with players perhaps deciding that if you could neither beat nor join the Mad Max scariness of Martin Skrtel, let alone go as strategically bare-headed as Becks (who was possibly just freeing up more advertising space), you could do worse than channel your inner tribal-warrior-meets-Charles-Manson. Or, in the case of goalie Tim Howard, combine both trends, with a rather unsettling shaven bonce and full beard combo. Frankly, male face styling has never been as open-ended – especially when you factor in the staunch stubblers led by pouting fashionista Jose Mourinho.
Footballers tend to be followers of fashion rather than trendsetters, though. So what’s at the root of this resurgence? Rather than the Taliban Guide to Facial Topiary, I’m attributing a beardly renaissance to Hollywood’s embrace of the full facial, personified by the likes of Jamie Dornan, Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck, manly shagginess ousting teazled goatee.
The message seems to be: ‘real men should look like a hedge after the local hunt’s charged through it. Get over it. And play your cards right, I’ll let you forage later for flaky pastry, spare roll-ups and small, roosting mammals.’
Ladies, over to you (and pass me the beer itch ointment).