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17th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Best Beards

Every year a bizarre event takes place in a small mountain village in Graubünden, Switzerland: "The Alpenbarttreffen“. A competition for the most beautiful natural full beard. Around 30 men competing for attention for a key symbol of masculinity - the beard. The beard, in earlier times regarded as a symbol of strength and adornment of manhood, developed into an expression of individuality and a form of fashion, especially in the western world. One might think it is a new kind of beauty contest, with all the hip mid-twenties with their trendy grown fashion accessories. But that's not true, beards have already been rated in Chur for over 30 years. The participants are men of the old guard, being connected to local traditions. Most of them are far beyond the age of 50 and have often been grooming their beards for decades. It is interesting to see how our idea of masculinity and femininity changes over time - meanwhile full beards are becoming modern again and even a few hipsters can be seen in Graubünden as well. This is an extract of 26 portraits, I took of the bearded in my studio on location in autumn 2018.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 10.2018
Date Uploaded: 11.2019
Photo Location: Graubuenden, Switzerland
Copyright: © Melanka Helms