(TIME) — What the history of beards reveals about the changing meaning of masculinity.
The historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore identifies “four great beard movements” in history. We may now be at the start of a fifth such age.
Why did beards suddenly become important? The question proves difficult to answer because moments of mass-beardedness in history occur randomly and involve different models of masculinity, causes, effects and durations. The historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore identifies “four great beard movements” that punctuate the history of masculinity — the second century, the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the latter half of the 19th century. Arguably we are currently at the beginning of a fifth age, though time will tell whether this is merely a moment of fashion or something more. Certainly beards have been current and widespread for the last 20 years and the term “hipster beard” is idiomatic.