Why Was There a Post-World War II Beard Boom?

For a brief period in the late 1950s, facial hair was all the rage.

Happy men with well-groomed beards pose for a photo

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Originally published November 15, 1958.

The present trends began in World War II, when men grew beards because they had no time to shave. Another reason for the beard boom may lie in the conformist climate of the times. A beard provides a man with a small opportunity for a personal revolt against sameness. Then, too, there is the vanity factor. Finally there is the basic, rock-bottom reason: Most men hate to shave.

“Used to be, the average guy who wore a beard, he was 1 in 50,” a barber said recently. “Now he’s like 1 in, say, 25.”

There are now so many American beards that Russia has seen fit to attack them. A few months ago, the truth-organ of the Young Communists’ League, edited by a beardless man, raved in an editorial, “Beards are unsanitary and uncultured and decadent. Young men who affect beards are those who also listen and contort themselves to degenerate American jazz.”

First page of the article, "Beards Stage a Comeback"
Read “Beards Stage a Comeback” by Richard Gehman from the November 15, 1958, issue of the Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

This article is featured in the March/April 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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