What, Beards Are Cool Now? Really?

According to a lighthearted study commissioned recently by Wahl, a company that makes electric hair-trimmers, the fifth most facial-hair-friendly city in America is…Salt Lake? Seriously?! You’ll forgive me if I have difficulty believing that. My own personal experiences as a bearded man living in clean-cut Mormondom have largely been to the contrary.

I was once told in a job interview — an interview for a position that would have had me working alone in a back room with no contact whatsoever with the public — that I would have to shave my beard and make myself “presentable” if I wanted the job. More than one young lady shot down my request for a date because they didn’t like “scruffy” men. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve practically heard the record-scratching sound effect upon entering a room because I was the only male in the place with facial fuzz. (I should point out, for the record, that I’ve always kept my beard neatly trimmed. Think of Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation; I didn’t deliberately emulate him, but our styles were similar. Which is one of the reasons why hearing negative remarks about my whiskers has always pissed me off so badly, because they don’t look scruffy, which naturally has made me all the more determined over the years to hang onto them.)

Of course, all these incidents were 20 years or more ago, and I will concede that if I really think about it, I see a lot more mustaches, beards, and assorted variants out there than I used to, especially downtown. Which I suppose makes sense, since I’ve read that metropolitan Salt Lake City is the most liberal spot in the state, with a demographic breakdown that’s now less than 50% Mormon. (The ‘burbs, on the other hand, are far more homogenous… and conservative.)

Old paradigms die hard, though, and I still tend to think my beard marks me as an outsider… a loner… a rebel. Learning that times have apparently changed and I now live (or at least work) in one of the beard-lovingest places in the whole bloody country… well, that’s going to need some time to sink in…

Incidentally, if you’re wondering what other cities are down with ‘staches and whiskers, here’s the rest of Wahl’s list, in order from top to bottom:

1. Boston
2. Los Angeles
3. Miami
4. Chicago
5. Salt Lake City
6. Minneapolis
7. Austin
8. Seattle
9. Denver
10. Nashville
11. Dallas
12. San Diego
13. Philadelphia
14. Houston
15. Detroit
16. New York
17. Indianapolis
18. Atlanta
19. Washington, D.C.
20. Pittsburgh

(Originally spotted at Boing Boing. Of course.)