Eddie Pensier writes:
The Beard: This common trend suggests that the clean-shaven, well-groomed man is overly civilized, untrustworthy, wimpy and cunning. Men with beards are real and rugged, but because of the beard, they don’t have to act it. Without effort on the part of their owners, beards display irrefutable maleness and a bold promotion of one’s own authenticity. The hipster beard wants to convey a sense of dominant character and personality, uniqueness, impatience with silly games, and a clear-eyed, worldly realism, like a late nineteenth-century frigate captain in enemy waters. But because the beard took on a soft, Jesus-y feel beginning in the 1960s that flowed into the early 1970s, the hipster beard now bears both crosses in an uncomfortable tension: a tough, straightforward character who still understands your feelings. The beard has returned, in this sense, to its Romantic roots as evidence of its wearer’s proximity to nature. It connects the contemporary Romantic to his inner animalism, his hormonal tether to the wild and biological self, his opposition to the civilized, bourgeois society: no tricks, no cunning, no fake, polite crap. Just mano a mano. The beard thus resolutely evidences its opposition to the white-collar world’s prohibition of it, conveying a sense of trendy insubordination…But the hipster beard, unlike the non-hipster beard, rides the coattails of manly cheekiness, saying, “What this beard appears to be, I am not”…Hipster beards only look like real-guy beards. Attempting sincere presentation of the brawny, unadorned self, hipsters are weighted down by the transparency of the attempt, preventing them from being what they want to be.
–R. Jay Magill, “Sincerity: How a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we all have something to say (no matter how dull)”