I tend not to follow fashion trends while I travel. One because it is difficult but two because it is unnecessary. Some manage to so I simply say each to their own. I have noticed, the more I travel, the more I see guys with a beard. These are guys from various countries, most of whom have been travelling for some time and embraced this look of not wanting or needing to groom. As a result, many have this unruly beard which fits this nature loving, bare-foot, tree hugging, hippie look. Along side this, many have the man-bun. The man-bun is a more recent trend but popular with both guys and girls. Again, it fits this hipster, easy-going, I just woke up and need no filter look. I noticed guys with beards initially in South America but then also Australia and parts of Europe. It is a distinct look and clearly popular with some guys.
I watched the much talked about movie – Bridget Jones’s Baby while I was flying into Christchurch. Having watched the trailers I was looking forward to it and sure enough, for me, it didn’t fail to deliver. I thought it was hilarious and perhaps my favourite out of the three. In the movie, Bridget refers to some of her male colleagues, as ironic bearded hipsters. And yes sure enough, in the movie, there is a group of guys all of whom have this slick hairstyle and beard. The main difference here however is, the guys clearly look after their beard. So it is not the free-spirited travel look, more it is a well groomed and maintained look which passes as professional. Either way, it is clearly popular with some guys and accepted as a fashion trend. I was back in London for a short period of time but I certainly saw more guys with a beard then when I left.
If we go back five maybe ten years, beards were not popular and not as accepted by certain people in society. Many Muslim men have a beard for religious reasons and after 9/11 and various terrorist attacks around the world, Muslims were and some still are targeted. Thanks to social profiling, media and politics, men with beards and a rucksack were feared. The assumption being that they could be a possible terrorist and needed to be feared. With the current turn of events, Muslims continue to be targeted and unfortunately, many innocent Muslims, who are not a terrorist and most probably never will be, are paying a hefty price. We are taught not to make assumptions and not to stereotype and yet that is exactly what has happened with Muslims.
Some people may also not be aware that many Sikh men were targeted in the aftermath of 9/11. Many Sikh men and women grow their hair and men traditionally wear a turban which covers their heard and they too grow their beard. As they apparently looked similar to Muslim men (both have a beard) they were targeted and at times mistaken for terrorists. They continue to experience hate crime and some were shot down by locals who thought they were Muslims. The long beards were seen as a symbol and targeted without reason and this continues in parts of America today. Sikh men with beards were mistaken for Muslims but clearly none should be targeted. The beard was viewed as something to be fearful of and also something to justify hate crimes.
It is interesting how now guys having a beard is, not only popular among some, but also acceptable by others. One take is a white male with a beard doesn’t pose the same threat to society as someone who is non-white, brown say. I for one don’t agree. I find both the media coverage and general shift in society however, implies we have nothing to fear when we see a white male with a beard. I don’t agree with racial profiling and do not believe anyone can be put into a box. I also don’t fear guys with a beard regardless of their faith and background. I don’t believe in judging or making an assumption about an individual based on what they look like or wear. It also made me think, had beards been fashionable ten years ago, would Sikh and Muslim men be targeted in the same manner? When will racial profiling stop?