Gruff, ironic façade

The beard covers up the sensitive little emo kid inside.

Dear Hipster:

So…hipster girls: slender, cute, creative, feminine, pretty. Hipster guys: kind of the same. If it weren’t for the beards I’d have a hard time telling the men from women in the hip community. Is there some hipster edict against typically masculine traits such as, oh... musculature, waistlines greater than 30 inches, regular barber cuts, and pants that fit properly? Outside of facial hair, is there a way to be a hipster and still look like a man? — Joaquin

The stereotypical hipster look didn’t spring out of thin air in the late-2000s. It evolved. One of its main progenitors is the Y2K-era “emo kid.”

Many of today’s hipsters living in urban-coolness enclaves spent the late ’90s and early-2000s in a small liberal-arts college studying graphic design. Listening to Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional led them down darker emotional paths of riper vintage; to Sunny Day Real Estate and Pinkerton-era Weezer. By the time emo music had jumped the shark ­— by embracing the bizarreness of bands like Brokencyde ­— Bright Eyes, M. Ward, and My Morning Jacket had led today’s hipsters away from the increasingly pseudo-punkish look of emo music and toward bands like the Decemberists. Getting caught up in the great turn-of-the-century indie folk-rock revival allowed the modern hipster to let go of cleanshavenness, even though he kept the tight pants and slender physique of his emo past. In a sense, this paved the way for the Mumford and Sons look that you know and love.

Though most modern hipsters don’t admit it, many of them whiled away the hours of their late-teens and early 20s wearing eyeliner and circling the stains where their tears fell on the pages of their diaries. The gruff, ironic outlook on life is a façade covering up the sensitive little emo kid inside.

The other issue is fashion. To be hipster is to be up on what’s deck, and “regular barber cuts and pants that fit properly” may be fashion-forward in the sense of GQ, but that’s not for everybody. Looking “nice” isn’t the end goal of hipster fashion. We wish to be evocative. Consider the beards you mentioned, through which modern hipsters evoke a romanticized image of masculinity that lends an air of authenticity to many of our exploits. It’s easier to enjoy farm-to-table food if one looks like a farmer. But actually tilling earth? Please.

Nicki Daniels drew the internet’s collective ire (admittedly not a hard thing to do) by calling bearded hipsters a great bunch of “pussies” and “poseurs,” citing the appearance of beard-grooming products as the symbolic death of 21st-century manliness. She claims the beard has become a laborious fashion statement, to be maintained like a woman’s fancy up-do.

She’s not wrong. There’s something ironically un-manly about taking great pains to cultivate an image of manliness. Does the man’s man no longer grow a beard because he does not care to shave? Of course, where is it written that hipsters want to be lumberjacks? If given the choice, I’ll take spinning vinyl at the coffee shop over a crushing death trying to break up a mid-winter logjam on the upper Missouri.

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