Vikings: The Pretty Boys of the Middle Ages?

Norse Man and Woman by Johannes Gehrts, 1884Vikings: The Pretty Boys of the Middle Ages?

By Carolyn Emerick

Celtic Guide, Volume 2, Issue 8 (2013)

Introduction: For the past millennium or so the Vikings have had quite a reputation. And it hasn’t been for their fabulous taste in fabric textures and color palettes! But lately, much has been written exploring the softer side of the Vikings. It came as a surprise to a lot of us, but we might just say that the Vikings were more “metrosexual” than we ever imagined.

The reputation given to them by some foreigners, most often the victims of raids, has stuck with the Vikings for well over one thousand years – that they were barbarians. The stereotype of barbarians is that they are ignorant, filthy, and brutish. However, we live in an age that prides itself on breaking down stereotypes and reevaluating how we look at people. And so, as we as a society have reconsidered how we define the many different people we interact with in the contemporary world, the stereotype of the Viking has recently been given a makeover as well.

Far from being filthy brutes, we find that Vikings were actually very well groomed and perhaps even fashion conscious. Just for the sake of perspective let us consider that for the past century or so Western society has seen a homogenizing of men’s fashion. The business suit as we know it is not that different than its earlier incarnation in the late Victorian Era. Mainstream men’s haircuts tend to be very similar, discounting sub-culture and counterculture trends.

And while we may sometimes make assumptions about class due to a man’s hairstyle, hair itself does not represent class. In other words, the male mechanic, the school teacher, and the CEO likely all have a very similar haircut as Prince Charles. Further, many men today feel self-conscious about being overly concerned about style or fashion, and some men shave their hair clean off rather than facing the dilemma of deciding on a style.

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