It is fascinating to note how often a surge in men’s desire to grow facial hair has coincided with their feeling threatened by female power. Two of the most heavily bearded eras in British history were during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. In the mid-nineteenth century, in addition to having a female monarch, Victorian men felt besieged by women agitating for more political power and daring to ask for the vote. By the time all adult British women were finally granted the vote in 1928, the mirrors of Britain were reflecting men admiring their manly moustaches. In 1960s and 1970s, as ‘women’s liberation’ gained new ground, facial hair sprouted to an extent that hadn’t been seen since the reign of Queen Victoria. In the 2010s, as the topic of feminism was once again more widely discussed in the press, the huge ‘hipster’ beard began to flourish.
Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards by Lucinda Hawksley, National Portrait Gallery