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  • The story of the man who gave his name to sideburns.

  • "Sideburns" as we now call them, go back a long way.

  • A mosaic from Pompeii depicts Alexander the Great with a pair.

  • They were a sign of authority with the Hindu military class

  • known as Kshatriya.

  • And the Meiji warriors of 19th Century Japan.

  • In Victorian England, they were called side whiskers and were worn

  • by important gentleman like Prince Albert and Charles Darwin.

  • Men with lavish facial hair were known as whiskerandos.

  • The style had several nicknames, including Piccadilly weepers

  • named after Piccadilly in London, where men sporting this kind of

  • facial hair would hang out.

  • And Dundrearies after Lord Dundreary,

  • an exaggeratedly bewhiskered character in Our American Cousin,

  • a popular play of 1858.

  • It was this play that another man with distinctive whiskers

  • was watching when he was assassinated... Abraham Lincoln.

  • But the term we now use - sideburn - dates back to a rather unfortunate

  • soldier of the American Civil War, General Ambrose Burnside.

  • Whilst still a young man, he was left standing at the altar by his fiancée

  • who ran out of the church crying...

  • Later, as a commander in the Union Army,

  • Burnside's military career was less than brilliant.

  • He was considered ineffective at The Battle of Antietam

  • and held responsible for the Union's crushing defeat at Fredericksburg.

  • And when he discovered that his former fiancée

  • had become a Confederate spy,

  • Burnside had her seized and kept under house arrest for months.

  • Despite these setbacks, before his death in 1881,

  • Burnside had become a household name.

  • Not for his military service or misfortunes in love,

  • but for his luxuriant facial hair.

  • It was so striking that the name Burnside whiskers was used to refer

  • to the combination of a moustache and side whiskers.

  • In the British Army,

  • side whiskers were always joined together by a moustache

  • because until 1916, soldiers were banned from shaving their top lips.

  • Eventually the syllables were reversed to give us sideburn.

  • Very bushy sideburns that cover the cheeks are known as

  • mutton chops because they look like a cut of meat.

  • Sideburns were worn by rebellious Teddy Boys in the 1950s and favoured

  • by movie stars and heavy rockers in the '60s and '70s.

  • They were less popular during the clean shaven '80s,

  • but have roared back into fashion with today's hipsters.

  • The Sides of March campaign recently encouraged men to grow sideburns

  • to raise funds and awareness about male suicide.

  • In 2015, a new catwalk trend emerged for women's sideburns -

  • the next phase in the never-ending pursuit of the hirsute.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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The story of the man who gave his name to sideburns.

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B2 facial hair moustache facial military worn hair

Sideburns: A hairy history | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/12
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