Friday, May 25, 2018
Features and More

Womanly whiskers sprouting up at Freaks & Beards competition in St. Petersburg

It takes 30 minutes.

Individual strands of hair are placed on adhesive applied to the chin until a full beard appears.

Making beards requires patience, said Mackenzie Hoskins, 27, a cosmetologist from Tampa.

But wearing a beard — as a woman — requires "a crap-ton of confidence," Hoskins said.

Like last year, Hoskins will be creating beards and hairstyles for a handful of women at Saturday's second annual Freaks & Beards competition and carnival in St. Petersburg.

More than 1,000 people are expected to come out to the Bends, where Hoskins' handiwork will be on full display.

Cheyenne Kusterbeck, 26, modeled a beard last year and said the practice has its drawbacks.

"It was itchy at first, but once I got going I didn't notice it," said the freelance make-up artist from St. Petersburg.

She donned her beard, a 1920s carnival-inspired black-and-purple corset gown and a cigarette box to peddle wares around the event.

"I had tights, vintage heeled boots and they sewed on this carnival like bustle," Kusterbeck said. "I had big curly awesome hair and it was so much fun."

Wardrobe and costuming is a large part of helping women in beards be less self-conscious, said Joanna Coblentz, 33, owner of Dollface and costumer for the event.

To fit the theme of Freaks & Beards, she outfits the bearded ladies in 1920s showgirl and carnival-themed outfits. Femininity in the clothes, hair and make-up really takes the edge off of looking at a woman with a beard, Coblentz laughed.

"Probably the fact that the girls involved were open-minded actually made beards look really sexy," Coblentz said. "Some of the girls who participated I had previously worked with and they loved the fun outfits they were wearing and the beards were very small."

Hoskins kept the beards short and neatly trimmed by design as to not overwhelm the women's faces.

"They were surprisingly very sexy," Coblentz said. "All the women got totally in character and they loved it."

Bearded women seeking to compete in this year's competition don't have to come through Hoskins and Coblentz, but you'll need your A-game to beat them.

Coblentz said she's considering incorporating found objects and craft supplies such as Matchbox cars and ribbons to create a few unique beards this year.

Hoskins recommends women competing look beyond cursory beard application to expert styling to snag a skeleton-shaped trophy.

"In German beard competitions, it's all about the styling. Men take their massive beards and shape them into cuckoo clocks and pirate ships," Hoskins explained. "Building a full beard and making it come out like that. ... That would be so badass."

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