According to this article, they are.
Why the sudden growth spurt? The blustery weather — and brutal job market — are certainly part of it. But Paul Roof, assistant professor of sociology at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina, says there are other issues at play.
“For some it’s a trend, but for others it’s a way of life and simply self-expression,” he says. “At the heart of the revival, I think, is the ‘reclaiming of masculinity.’ Beards are a direct backlash against metrosexuality and the feminization of modern man. But beards are also the only accessory route that men have — the only way men can change their looks.”
Of course that's not true- men can change their looks in all sorts of ways. I used to color my hair all the time, for instance. And I still could, if I wanted to. Men can choose to wear short robes, as I do. They can choose wear makeup. That's not a choice I would make for myself, but I'm not you and I'm not judging.
But maybe there is something to the "feminization of masculinity" thing- I've been too busy "being a man" to notice if I was being feminized.
Anyway, the article's proof of this big trend?
According to the marketing research company The NPD Group, sales of electric shavers and men’s facial trimmers have dipped 12 percent just in the last year while beard-related activities are, well, bristling.
Beard Team USA, a division of the World Beard and Moustache Championships, boasts 36 chapters in the U.S. alone, many in urban hotspots such as Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis and New York. There are beard contests and beard blogs, mustache movies and facial hair fundraisers.
A 12% drop in sales of electric shavers and facial trimmers during the very recession that's causing the trend you're writing about? That is shocking that people would choose not to drop 40 bucks (or more, much more- maintenance on those things is problematic and irritating) on electric shavers when they can buy a pack of more convenient disposables for much less.
As for the other things, social networking sites are quite popular anyway, so big deal if there are a few beard blogs. For crying out loud there are over 100 million blogs out there right now. Of those 100 million, two things can be said: some of them must be devoted to beards (here's one! here's another!), and my blog is the best.
This "beard trend" story is just another one of those "woman swims across the Atlantic" stories. It's kinda not actually true.
For my part, I would like to state that my beard has nothing to do with the current recession- it simply a present I'm giving to my face. It's been through a lot, and deserves it.
Bonus update later in the day: Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman's show, representing bearded men everywhere. Way to go!