The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard

I’m most fascinated that using a straight razor to shave at home was partially motivated by a fear of the black barber and that the eventual rise in the beard’s popularity stemmed from difficulties with handling/maintaining the very same tool. Things sometimes become popular simply because they’re practical!

“Without the assistance of their former barbers, shavers had to contend with the 19th-century straight razor…Even the simplest misstep could ruin it, turning the morning shave into a tug-of-war between men and their facial hair…What had once been a mere annoyance turned into a veritable scourge. It was time for radical solution: Men eschewed razors in numbers and embarked, for the first time in centuries, on an era of beard-wearing.”

The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard

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