Living in Northern Virginia, there’s a good chance that you know someone who wears a beard. Chris Little, owner of Duct Doctor an indoor air quality company, has worn a beard since 2008. Below are a few of his thoughts on wearing a beard in this day and age in Northern Virginia.
As told to Jessica Monte
NVSL: Why did you grow a beard?
CL: Growing up my father always had, and still has, a full beard. I think it really starts there if I’m being honest with myself. Somewhere around 2008 – 2009 I just decided I was over shaving. I was over purchasing razors, shaving cream and over shave bumps in general. All that together and I’ve had a beard for a while now. My kids have only seen me a couple times without one. I shaved it for to raise money for a charity event not too long ago and my son was coming home from his grandparents. I remember calling his name and telling him to come into the kitchen. The combination of fear and confusion on his face was pretty priceless when he came around the corner.
NVSL: Is your beard part of your family tradition/background?
CL: Yes, my father has always had a beard. Prior to that, only one that I can verify, during the civil war. Going back to our earliest family record in America is Thomas Little who arrived in the Plymouth Colony from Devon, England in 1631. Unfortunately, he had no beard. Weak sauce. He was a lawyer and a constable in Marshfield, Massachusetts and apparently, they didn’t dig on beards.
NVSL: Are you friends with other men who have beards?
CL: Yes, I am. However, I’m not sure if I’m friends with them because of the beard per se. I just like to be around good people, beard or no beard.
NVSL: Why do you think beards are trendy right now?
CL: I think life moves in waves like the ocean. In the 60’s it was initially more of a counter culture move. A statement saying, “I’m dropping out of society, man.” Then the Vietnam war, a long sustained war effort, ended and I think the 70’s gave way to beards being more accepted and mainstream. I believe it had a lot to do with the Veterans coming home, getting out of the service and growing beards to be honest. I know that’s when my father grew his beard and it’s been there ever since. That coupled with rock goups and Hollywood getting in on the push. If you do a search for 7os rock stars you might be surprised who you see rocking a beard.
So, given that story line, it could be possible that financial crisis in 2008 set the overall stage for a beards making a comeback. I think the overall feeling across the country on main street was, “we just collectively got the short end of the stick, man.” If you then overlay that timeline with the “wind down” of the war on terror, another long sustained war effort, under the Obama administration. Then again look to Hollywood and you might start to see some parallels that may explain the current trend.
I remember back when I first grew a beard in 2008-2009 it seemed like it was rare to see anyone else with one around Northern Virginia. I was more of the odd man out and most people were just curious what I did for work. Then, in 2013 work took me out to Salt Lake City Utah for a couple months. I remember on one of the first phone conversations I had with my wife stating that, “almost everyone out here has a beard.” In the last couple of years, I’d say beards and facial hair are pretty common place around the region. My cousin James grows a very disturbing mustache that screams, “take the candy and get into my creeper van”.
The original article is in the 2017 Summer/Fall Edition of Northern Virginia Style & Living. To read more, subscribe to NVSL.