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BU beard expert will wag chin on growth of whisker culture
Brandon University resident beard expert will be giving a free public talk about the growth of online beard culture. It’s part of BU’s Movember, which is bringing attention to men’s health and wellness, as well as the related research being done at BU around men’s issues and masculinity.
Dr. Christopher Schneider is a BU sociology professor who boasts an impressive beard of his own. What he found when he turned his sociological insights toward the beard-growing communities on social media has led to a published academic paper that was covered in news media like the CBC and the National Post.
One of his surprising findings was the supportive and encouraging culture that grew up around beard-growing on YouTube, a site sometimes notorious for toxic comments.
“My talk will focus on beard culture on social media with attention to the role of YouTube in disseminating information — including growing advice, grooming techniques and style,” Dr. Schneider said. “I’ll begin with a brief overview of history of beards following by a discussion of beard culture online.”
He says it was the internet that paved much of the way for amateur beardsmen to turn into so-called professional beardsmen. In the 2000s, Jack Passion established himself as a beard celebrity and parlayed his fame to market beard products online; he is sometimes credited as the first “professional beardsman.”
Although your genetics are generally acknowledged as the primary driver of beard growth, there is no shortage of information and advice on the internet that promotes the myth or idea that beard products cause growth, as described in Dr. Schneider’s published research paper. Nevertheless, this myth benefits beard entrepreneurs and their companies. Dr. Schneider found during his research that in the early 1970s just one brand of moustache wax was available on the market. He points out that there are now dozens of waxes, oils, and balms — an entire beard product grooming industry sold online. The talk will end with a few conclusions regarding the particular role that social media sites now play in facilitating contemporary beard culture.
Everyone is welcome to attend the short talk, which will take place in the BU library’s main floor Gathering Space on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 5–7 p.m. The talk will include time for a question-and-answer session as well as informal discussion. Wine and cheese refreshments will be provided.
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