The meaning of the goatee

Another take on the New New Goatee: It is a symbol of bloggy, stay-at-home cred. “I wish I were part of some grand sociological trend,” says Jonah Goldberg, the goateed conservative pundit and frequent blogger on National Review Online. “But I mostly do it because I work from home and it makes it easier to go very long periods of time with shaving.”

The New New Goatee can signify both youth and maturity. Billy Joel’s goatee is a sign of an older man trying to recapture his youth. Michael Phelps’ goatee is a sign of a golden boy trying to look older.

There are, of course, aesthetic considerations. “First and foremost, they’re thinning,” says Larry the Cable Guy. When he debuted as a morning radio personality in the 1990s, Larry’s act was delightfully offensive but his face was baby-smooth. “I looked like a kid, a punk, no facial hair, nothing,” he says. Larry grew a full beard, but that was a smidge too country—“I looked like an Oak Ridge Boy”—so he pruned it down into a goatee. Paired with a baseball cap and sleeveless shirt, these days Larry looks like he has just exited a Golden Corral buffet. He has redneck gravitas.