The fad for facial hair has made clones of men; is it time to #BreakTheBeard?

The irony of course, is that while the desire to look different is behind many Indian men opting for a beard, they're now more likely to look like clones of each other.

FP Staff April 26, 2017 11:40:34 IST
The fad for facial hair has made clones of men; is it time to #BreakTheBeard?

The story goes that when Russian emperor Peter the Great conducted his grand tour of Western Europe in 1697, he became convinced that his own country was stuck in a time warp, in all the ways that mattered.

In terms of economics and science, yes; but also in matters of style.

When he returned to Russia in 1698, a grand reception was held in his honour. But the gathered crowd of dignitaries was horror-struck when, having greeted his friends, Peter pulled out a razor and began shaving off their fulsome beards!

Peter the Great was convinced that the Russian preference for beards was but one sign of the vast ground the country needed to cover in its quest to be truly modern. Given the cultural preference for beards, Peter hit on the idea of a 'beard tax': apart from priests, men who didn't shave had to pay a tax of 100 roubles annually.

The beard tax was abolished in Russia in 1772, but we wonder what Peter the Great would have thought of the proliferation of beards as a style statement among men today.

Beards — once a way for primitive man to protect his face from the elements — are now as ubiquitous as, well, commas in a sentence.

Indian men have jumped on the beard bandwagon as much as their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

To get an idea of just how all-pervasive the hirsute look is, here's a vectorised image of the Indian cricket team. Can you tell the difference between Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja?

The fad for facial hair has made clones of men is it time to BreakTheBeard

And it’s not only the Indian team; an abundance of facial hair seems to be a favoured look for the entire cricketing fraternity. A recent survey on Cricinfo asked fans to identify their favourite cricketing heroes from a set of illustrations. Around 80 percent of them didn’t get it right. Can you really blame them?

Sixty-nine percent of players participating in IPL 2017 have facial hair — compared to only 31 percent who are clean shaven. Here’s a 'facial hair breakdown' for the players in each team:

The fad for facial hair has made clones of men is it time to BreakTheBeard

And it isn't just cricket stars, even those on the small screen are displaying the same propensity for the beard.

The fad for facial hair has made clones of men is it time to BreakTheBeard

(L to R) Manish Goplani, Paras Arora, Shaheer Sheikh and Vivian Dsena

The reason young men quote most often for sporting a beard is that ‘they look different’ or ‘look more masculine’. One student we spoke with, said his beard lets him 'explore (his) wild side and also makes (him) feel more powerful'. For a Mumbai-based filmmaker, sporting a beard is all about a look that's 'in keeping with (his) profession'.

Fuelled by social media, pop culture and celebrities, it seems young Indian men aren't looking beyond the beard at the moment.

Unfortunately, it's almost become like a 'pseudo-masculine starter pack' that everyone's rushing to get.

The irony of course, is that while the desire to look different is behind many Indian men opting for a beard, they're now more likely to look like clones of each other.

But there's another trend in the making, and this one's fuelled by the likes of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja. Debuting a new, cleaner look on his social media account, Jadeja wrote: "Change the game on the field. Change the look in the dressing room. #BreakTheBeard."

Here's a video Jadeja tweeted, along with a short video:

Soon enough, Jadeja's peers like Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya also followed suit, sharing their own #BreakTheBeard moments:

Taking a leaf out of the cricketers' book, other personalities have also gone the cleaner route — TV actor Abhinav Shukla is a case in point:

And maybe they're being spurred on at least in part, by the compliments they seem to be getting:

So, unless you are aiming for a role on Vikings, why not try a different look like Jadeja et al? #BreakTheBeard: Peter the Great would approve.

Updated Date:

also read

India vs England: Virat Kohli-led visitors undergo extensive nets session in Durham ahead of Test series
First Cricket News

India vs England: Virat Kohli-led visitors undergo extensive nets session in Durham ahead of Test series

The BCCI also shared snapshots of the team's bowlers with pacers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin seen training hard ahead of their warm-up game.

India vs County Select XI: Ravindra Jadeja impresses with twin fifties as warm-up encounter ends in draw
First Cricket News

India vs County Select XI: Ravindra Jadeja impresses with twin fifties as warm-up encounter ends in draw

The match did not have the same intensity as it was witnessed on the first two days with the game heading for a drab draw.

India vs Select County XI: Umesh Yadav leads bowling charge to bundle out hosts for 220 on Day 2 of warm-up game
First Cricket News

India vs Select County XI: Umesh Yadav leads bowling charge to bundle out hosts for 220 on Day 2 of warm-up game

For India, Umesh was the stand-out bowler as he bowled in short spells and worked up a fair bit of pace with figures of 3/22 in 15 overs.