• Sweden's news in English
 

Move over Conchita, the beard is dead

Published: 12 May 2014 12:18 GMT+02:00

 
If there’s one word on, over and around everyone’s lips right now, it’s "beard". You couldn’t open your eyes over the last few weeks without seeing a certain bearded gent/lady beaming at you from inside a skin-tight sequined dress. And now, after Conchita Wurst’s dramatic Eurovison victory, we’re sure to be seeing her beard/mascara combo on our screens for a good while longer.
 
Conchita, however, might be too late, because all across Europe, a great change is already underway. Borders are being redrawn, priorities reshuffled, and long-held beliefs are being tossed out like baby-flavoured bathwater. What appeared impossible has finally come to pass, and no amount of Eurovison sequins can halt it. Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, we have finally reached Peak Beard.
 
Yes, it seems that ridiculously expansive facial hair is on its way out. After five years of watching young men morph into feral lumberjacks, making Stockholm look as if a massed invasion by 1970s folk bands were underway, the beard is finally past its cool-by date. The signs are everywhere. Dapper men are sporting twirly moustaches. Youthful TV presenters are clean-shaven as altar boys. Footballers are no longer slathered in scrubland as they tell us how well/badly it went and why. And fashion posters for fancy shops are now awash with fully-bearded men, allowing us to see how daft they look and how mainstream and sell-out it’s all become.
 
But the death-knell, the thing that beats the nail firmly into its hairy coffin, is that cool New-Yorkers are no longer sprouting surreal amounts of facial hair. And when cool people in New York no longer do something, trend-slavish Stockholmers are obliged to drop that same thing and run screaming from it, like cartoon ducks being pursued by a cloud of angry, pointy-assed bees. Off they go, any second now.
 
I remember, a few years back, when the Stockholm beard supernova ignited. I had returned to work after the summer holidays and for a while I was sure I’d wandered into an Amish horse market. Bearded men suddenly outnumbered the bare-chinned four to one. I sat through meetings where I was the only un-bearded man in the room. And stepping outside, I found you couldn’t cross a street in Stockholm without seeing men with facial hair reaching down to their nipples. They wandered Södermalm in herds, each hairy chin construction more daft and convoluted than the next. They whizzed by on their fixed-gear bikes and served us in trendy bars and cafes, with their smug beanies and arms engraved with tattoo doodles, all looking as if they owned the world and would do so for ever and ever and ever.
 
But they didn’t. The cruel wheel of fashion turned and now beards, at least beards on young men, have become sad. All over this town for the next few months you will hear the long scissors coming out, and after this summer the men of my office will slink back to work, all smooth and clean-shaven, and pretend that nothing has happened. There will be nods of silent agreement to never discuss the hairy mania of the last five years. It will have been a dream, a bristled Bobby Ewing stumbling, pasty and naked, from the shower. “Beards?” their quizzical looks will say. “What beards?”
 
And now, as the age of the beard limps to a close, it feels like a gesture of some kind is required. So I say let’s collect all the tonnes of facial hair that will tumble to bathroom floors around Stockholm over the next few months — every wiry curl, every fluffy ball of ginger and black — and use it to make a suitable monument. A great tangled beard it will be, fat and full and five metres high, with a pair of unfeasibly large black-rimmed glasses perched ironically on top.
 
And when that’s done, let’s go back to how it was, where people could wear beards because they want to, and not just as an ironic fashion accessory. Conchita Wurst may indeed have missed Peak Beard, but I prefer to see her as the vanguard of a new age, an age when people, male or female alike, can again bristle up and display their whiskers with the non-ironic pride they deserve.
 
The Beard™ is dead. So long live the beard.
 
Paddy moved to Sweden for love and stayed on for the pickled fish. He is a member of the Stockholm Writers’ Group

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Arrest over Swedish journalist's Kabul murder
A Stockholm press conference last March on Nils Horner's murder. Photo: TT

Arrest over Swedish journalist's Kabul murder

A suspect has been arrested for the murder of popular Swedish-British national radio journalist Nils Horner last year in Kabul, but in Sweden many questions about the case remain unanswered. READ  

'Nazi' question lands broadcaster in hot water
Crown Princess Victoria in Poland on Tuesday. Photo: TT

'Nazi' question lands broadcaster in hot water

Sweden's public broadcaster SVT was facing a backlash on social media on Wednesday after a reporter asked Crown Princess Victoria about her family's history during her visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. READ  

Huge cuts at Gothenburg ball bearing plant
SKF headquarters in Gothenburg. Photo: TT

Huge cuts at Gothenburg ball bearing plant

The world's biggest producer of ball bearings SKF announced massive job cuts Wednesday even though its net profits soared fivefold in 2014. READ  

Fashion giant H&M to grow as profits soar
H&M's profits are growing. Photo: TT

Fashion giant H&M to grow as profits soar

Swedish fashion giant H&M has announced that its profits for 2014 rose by almost a fifth and pledged to speed up its global expansion. READ  

Swedish drug users ‘need’ syringe exchanges
A needle exchange centre in Malmö. Photo: TT

Swedish drug users ‘need’ syringe exchanges

Needle and syringe exchange programmes should be introduced across the country, to reduce the growing risk of hepatitis C, Sweden’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) writes in a new report. READ  

Electrolux profits soar after massive cost cuts
Stockholm-based white goods producer Electrolux. Photo: TT

Electrolux profits soar after massive cost cuts

Swedish white goods maker Electrolux announced on Wednesday that its profits tripled in 2014, as it looks to North America for growth with the acquisition of General Electrics' appliance division. READ  

The Local List
Ten ways talking in English baffles Swedes
A Viking - sometimes pronounced 'Wiking', in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

Ten ways talking in English baffles Swedes

While Swedes are among the world's best English speakers, there are a few common - and often charming - mistakes The Local's team has spotted while chatting to Swedes in their second language (because yes, of course, it is still better than our Swedish). READ  

'We must never forget the Holocaust'
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Stockholm Synagogue commemorative ceremony on Tuesday. Photo: TT

'We must never forget the Holocaust'

Sweden marked the sombre 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp on Tuesday at several locations, with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven noting that hate is still a sore reality in Sweden. READ  

Stieg Larsson sequel set for 35 country release
Rooney Mara, star of the English-language film versions of the series. Photo: TT

Stieg Larsson sequel set for 35 country release

A sequel to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium crime trilogy will go on sale in at least 35 countries from August, the book's publishers have announced. READ  

Top ice stars skate into Stockholm's Globe
Spain's Javier Fernandez is hoping to defend his title. Photo: TT

Top ice stars skate into Stockholm's Globe

Some of the world’s top figure skaters are sliding into Sweden’s capital to take place in the European figure skating championships which get underway in Stockholm's Ericsson Globe on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Does Sweden help returning Isis fighters more than Swedish veterans?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
Society
Is Sweden's healthcare system a national embarassment?
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
Property of the week: Skanör, Vellinge
Blog updates

26 January

The mysterious -s, part 1 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! How is your Swedish coming along? A while ago I read on a forum on The..." READ »

 

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Why Sweden's Left party wants a European 'Red Spring'
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's hottest new fashion designers for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who travels on Stockholm's different subway lines?
Lifestyle
Why this Swedish baby is a US hit
Lifestyle
'Limousine' snowplough for sale
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Gallery
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's 'no pants' subway day 2015
Gallery
People-watching: January 10th - 11th
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to jump-start your career in southern Sweden
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,113
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options