House Speaker Paul Ryan, (AP Photo/) (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Enjoy your beard now, hipsters. Paul Ryan has grown one, so it's definitely no longer cool

Beards have been hipster chic for years, but Paul Ryan's has grown one, which sounds the death knell for the trend


Amanda Marcotte
December 19, 2015 7:01PM (UTC)

This is a message for hipster dudes, geek chic dudes, and urban dads who might be a little soft in the middle but still know they got it because they bought that Father John Misty record this year: Enjoy your beard while you can. Enjoy the ladies who love rubbing their faces on it. Savor those artisanal beard grooming products you'll get for Christmas this year. Take the time to stroke it lovingly, basking in that feeling of being a mountain man as you peruse the organic kale selection at your local farmer's market. Because, by this time next year, it might all be over for you.

That is because Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has grown a beard. This might seem a small, insignificant development to you. But the sad fact is that once a trend goes Republican, its days are quickly numbered. Within a very short amount of time, that trend will be associated with the deeply unhip and eschewed by anyone who wants sex with the lights on in their future. And you, being one of those people (which is why you grew the beard in the first place, if you're being honest with yourself), will have to shave your luscious and lovingly tended chin pubes off.

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If you're skeptical of this, consider the last time the hairy ape look was this fashionable amongst the hipster set: the late '60s and 'early 70s. It was a time for long hair, for beards, for impressive sideburns, all to be worn with your loudest paisley shirts. It bespoke a wildness and rejection of the short-haired gray flannel suit conformity of the 1950s. It was, like now, a time for folk rock and a rough-hewn sort of sexiness.

And then Republicans started growing thick sideburns and wearing loud patterns. Granted, being conservative, they had a more conservative take on the fashion, such as Donald Rumsfeld's Nixon-era sideburns. Or the dreadful way that patterns that were once "hippie" made their way into the ties of members of the Ford administration.

Is it any surprise that the hip young folks of the city took one look at that, changed their hair and wearing slim black pants and skinny ties?

It may not seem like it now, but Paul Ryan has opened the floodgates. Conservative men are going to start growing beards en masse. There's already a widely shared piece at the Federalist titled "With A Beard, Paul Ryan Exudes Manliness," which is half a call to arms and half erotic fanfic about Ryan's beard.

"Take a cue from our speaker and embrace your masculinity," Nicole Russell writes, going on to rant about "politically correct" so-called "beta males" and other bizarre right wing obsessions stemming from their hang-ups about gender.

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Right now, that piece is getting passed around and guffawed at because Russell doesn't seem to grasp that the beard is, by and large, still a signal that you are one of those "politically correct" liberal men she hates. I mean, there are those "Duck Dynasty" guys, but they are cartoons. Most people still see a beard and think of bicycles, canvas bags full of organic foods, marijuana, and a vinyl collection.

Laugh away, fools, because Russell's piece is not bone-headed, but prescient. This is the natural order of trends. First, the urban hipsters do it. Then it goes broad with the mildly hip but still very liberal crowd. Then conservatives start doing it. Then it's over. It happened to glam rock in the '80s, and then to "alternative" rock in the '90s.  Remember how everyone thought rap rock might be a thing, due to the success of the Beastie Boys? That didn't survive much past the reactionary, Republican-friendly music of Limp Bizkit, the Insane Clown Posse and 311, did it?

And it also happens in fashion. In 1978, bright neon colors were the height of punk fashion, as evidenced by the cover of "Germfree Adolescents" by the X-Ray Spex. A decade later, those same colors were a stand-in for corporate culture and the cool kids were wearing plaid flannels and ripped up black band T-shirts. Nothing gold can stay.

And so the shifting sands of time will take away your beard. You may think you are above such petty concerns as trendiness and fashion, of course. But once women start swiping left on Tinder because they see a beard and think "Republican," the siren call of the razor will beckon. You may think that your face looks fuller and more manly with a beard. That may be so, but it now also looks more like Paul Ryan's, and nobody wants that.

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Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. Her new book, "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself," is out now. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte

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