Society has viewed men's social clubs through a negative lens that centers around stereotypes that lead to misunderstandings of groups or individuals. Because of these negative stereotypes, inaccurate perceptions of these men throughout society have become misleading in ways that can damage how social club culture is represented.
Historically bearded men have had a long presence within society. Generations of men would grow their beards for warmth, intimidation, and protection; however, as society evolves, so does the trends that follow those generations. What was seen as facial hair has developed into a sense of identity, culture, and community within urban spaces throughout America, and due to the rise of social media, people have developed a lifestyle around the idea of having a beard. As a result, what was once a form of protection has become a subculture of social clubs whose common interest centers around facial hair.
Bearded America gives a visual story that beaks away from social stereotypes and allows for an open dialog around the culture and community of men's social clubs as a linguistic-based series that depicts the story of Bearded Villains' social clubs within America. Through a narrative subject matter focusing on beard communities, this series tells a story about the culture and community around beard social clubs.
The goal of this project is to give an insider perspective on how social clubs have a positive impact on society. Using photo documenting, Bearded America tells a visual story of how strangers with one common interest came together through social media to form a close community of friends and family. In addition, this project introduces a different side of social clubs by focusing on the community and culture of chapters from the Bearded Villains social club. This project documents the spaces these men occupy and the personal journey of their brotherhood.
"I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A SOLO PERSON BUT SEEING SOME OF THESE GENTLEMEN AND HOW THEY HANDLE THEMSELVES. I KNEW I WOULD BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN ME, THEM, AND ALL OF US. A PLACE IN WHICH THE WORD LOYALTY IS TATTED UP TO YOUR CORE. IT WAS EASY TO JOIN ONCE I LEARNED WHAT THIS WAS ALL ABOUT. BEING CLOSE TO EIGHT YEARS OF BEING A VILLAIN, I’VE SEEN MANY CHANGES IN THE PROTOCOLS BUT NOT IN MY BROTHERS, AND THAT’S WHY I AM STILL AROUND TO THIS DAY. LIKE EVERYTHING, IT HAS IT'S GOOD AND BAD, BUT THERE AREN’T BAD ENOUGH FOR ME TO LET GO OF THIS BOND I’VE CREATED WITH MY HOMIES. VILLAIN FOREVER!"
"I LEARNED ABOUT BV THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA. MAINLY THROUGH INSTAGRAM. I WAS SEARCHING FOR BEARD PRODUCTS AND CAME ACROSS THE BEARDED VILLAINS IG PAGE.
I HAD JUST RECENTLY LEFT ACTIVE DUTY AND WAS MISSING THE CAMARADERIE I HAD WITH MY GUYS. LEARNED THAT BV WAS BIG ON BROTHERHOOD AND CAMARADERIE. I ALSO LEARNED THAT BV WAS BIG ON CHARITY AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY AND I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A PART OF IT AND A BIG REASON WHY I WANTED TO JOIN."
"BEING IN BEARDED VILLAINS MEANS EVERYTHING. IT HAS GIVEN ME A PLATFORM TO DO CHARITY WORK, IT HAS GIVEN ME MANY LOYAL BROTHERS THAT ARE NOW PERMANENTLY A PART OF MY LIFE. BEARDED VILLAINS OFFER A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE AND HOW PEOPLE CAN COME TOGETHER FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF HUMANITY. "
"I JOINED BEARDED VILLAINS TO BUILD WITH LIKE MINDED INDIVIDUALS AND HAVE CAMARADERIE AROUND WHAT UNITES US. THE BROTHERHOOD WAS A GREAT WAY FOR ME TO FIND FAMILY IN FRIENDS AND I'M GRATEFUL FOR THOSE WHO FEEL THE SAME."
"I JOINED BV BECAUSE MY BROTHER MADE ME."
"BEING A PART OF THIS BROTHERHOOD MEANS THE WORLD TO ME. IT GAVE ME THIS PLATFORM THROUGH WHICH I CAN HELP AND SERVE MY COMMUNITY. I GOT BROTHERS WITH ME WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY. I BELIEVE CHARITY AND BROTHERHOOD NEED TO GO HAND IN HAND."
"2015, I FIRST CAME ACROSS BEARDED VILLAINS ON INSTAGRAM AT THAT MOMENT, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS. ALMOST 10 YEARS LATER AND I HAVE GAINED MANY GREAT FRIENDSHIPS AND MEMORIES.
"BACK IN 2014, I WAS GROWING MY BEARD OUT, BUT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. HOW TO PROPERLY CARE FOR MY BEARD. I STARTED SEARCHING ON INSTAGRAM AND HASHTAGS, WHICH TOOK ME DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, AND THERE THEY WERE, THE BEARDED VILLAINS! THE THING I IMMEDIATELY NOTICED WAS BADASS BEARDS, BUT THE MORE PICTURES I CAME ACROSS OF BV BROTHERS, I NOTICED THERE WEREN'T ANY AFRICAN AMERICAN MEMBERS, AND THAT WAS MOTIVATION TO JOIN BV. TO BECOME A MEMBER AND SHOW THAT DIVERSITY AND ALSO AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN CAN GROW SOME DOPE BEARDS AS WELL! BEING A PART OF THIS BROTHERHOOD IS EVERYTHING! WE HAVE MEMBERS ALL OVER THE WORLD. IT'S PRETTY AMAZING HOW BEARDED VILLAINS HAVE GROWN SINCE 2014/2015. YES, THERE ARE UPS AND DOWNS. GUYS HAVE COME AND GONE, BUT MY FOUNDATION HASN'T CHANGED. BEARDS, BROTHERHOOD, CHARITY, LOYALTY, AND RESPECT. I AM MY BROTHER'S KEEPER!”
"I JOINED BV305 BECAUSE I WANTED TO BELIEVE IN A GREAT PURPOSE. DANIEL PEREZ (CAPTAIN OF BV305) TOOK THE CHANCE IN SHOWING ME THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH A LIKE-MINDED LOYALTY WHICH I HAD PUT AWAY FOR A WHILE BECAUSE OF ALL THE SHADE IN THIS WORLD BV305 HAS CHANGED MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER AND I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL..."
"BEING A PART OF BEARDED VILLAINS BROTHERHOOD MEANS TRUE LOYALTY AND RESPECT AMONG LIKE-MINDED MEN. ALL WITH THE SAME GOAL AND PURPOSE. IT MEANS FAMILY, LOVE, AND GROWTH. IT MEANS HAVING A SUPPORT SYSTEM BY YOUR SIDE 24/7. IT MEANS PUSHING ONE ANOTHER TO BE THE BEST POSSIBLE VERSION OF YOURSELF AND IT MEANS BLESSING OTHERS THAT ARE LESS FORTUNATE AND GIVING BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY."
“I JOINED BV FOR BEING A PLACE THEY CARE ABOUT THE ORDINARY BEARDED GUY. NOT THE MODELS THAT THEY SHOWED IN BEARDED PAGES. AFTER A WHILE WHEN THEY CREATED CHAPTERS I WAS ABLE TO MEET SOME OF THE GREATEST GUYS AND BEST OF FRIENDS. AFTER A YEAR IN THE CHAPTER, THEY ELECTED ME CO-CAPTAIN OF THE CENTRAL FLORIDA VILLAINS AND WE SAW THE CREATION OF MORE CHAPTERS LIKE ORLANDO AND SWAMP SIDE LEAVING US TO REPRESENT TAMPA BAY. THIS CLUB HAS ALLOWED ME TO MEET MY BEST FRIENDS THAT HAVE BECOME FAMILY, AND IT KEEPS SHOWING ME MORE GREAT GUYS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.”
“Who Are We - In 2015 I had a vision, to gather this group of tatted bearded guys from Miami and change our community. The question that is asked why would crazy looking bearded individuals want to give up their time to help others? Well, that’s just it. It is crazy, and that’s what makes our bond that much more incredible. These men bought in to the vision. Making it not only possible, but so much better than I ever imagined. We’ve changed so many lives together. From helping kids with cancer, to feeding the homeless, providing less fortunate kids with school supplies and most of all providing hope to our community, that no matter how crazy, bearded and tatted one may look, good people still exist in this world. We came together to help and inspire, and along the way we became family. I owe my life to these gentlemen, they gave me a sense of being, a reason to be who I am no matter how hard it gets. So, when you see me be so passionate about my club, about Bearded Villains, now you know why. This is my lifeline."
"IM A VILLAIN 4 LIFE!!"
– Daniel Perez, Prez of Miami Villains (BV305)