Bearded Man

(Creative Commons)

A man may face many problems growing his facial hair. He may only be able to grow patchy beards or be hardly able to grow one at all. His mustache may grow in rapidly while his side hair may take longer to grow. Maybe his workplace requires all employees to be clean-shaven.

Either way, the rich history of beards and mustaches along with several studies in support of beards, means no man should feel discouraged from growing one.

Beards and mustaches carry a rich history.

In some instances, facial hair of some sort was compulsory in armies.

During the 19th century, after the Crimean War, the United Kingdom prohibited men from shaving hair above their upper lips until as recent as 1916. Following the war, when civilian Britons saw their troops return home with colossal beards, heavy facial hair fell back into favor. It was associated with heroism and manliness. During the Great War, French infantrymen were called “poilu,” which means “hairy” in French, for their hairiness. Beards and bushy mustaches had been common among the poilu, who embraced their ruggedness.

Far before this, beards bore a positive reputation in Ancient Greece among many other ancient civilizations. Several Greek men sported voluminous, often curly beards to display their high status and wisdom. In Ancient Persia, Greece and Macedonia, beards were prevalent. To prevent Persians from grasping at beards in battle, Alexander the Great ordered his troops to shave off their beards, according to the ancient historian Plutarch.

Nowadays, beards remain prevalent and preferable to being clean-shaven.

Beards are overall viewed positively by women.

A 2008 study by Neaves and Shields involved women rating 15 men on five different levels of facial hair: clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, light beard and full beard. The 60 raters evaluated the men’s faces on masculinity, dominance, social maturity, aggression and attractiveness. Although the women found men with light stubble to be the most attractive, they deemed fully-bearded faces to be the most masculine, aggressive and socially mature. The raters found men with light beards to be the most dominant of the levels. 

Depending on whether you prioritize masculinity over attractiveness or vice versa, the study reveals that women have a clear preference for men with facial hair.

A more recent, larger study indicates how much more desirable women find bearded men to be over beardless men.

The 2016 study by the Journal of Evolutionary Biology displayed graphically manipulated male faces, which ranged from clean-shaven to light stubble, heavy stubble and fully bearded.  In contrast to the previous study, women rated men with heavy stubble to be the most attractive. Facial hair generally improved the women’s perception of men’s long-term attractiveness.

Gay men may also favor the bearded over the beardless.

According to a 2016 1,577-participant survey by the Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior in the Czech Republic and Brazil, gay men preferred facial hair on men as well. The survey found that male participants opted for men with beards similar to their own level of beardedness.

This suggests that depending on how sizeable a man’s beard is influences how desirable he finds beards on other men.

Many men today prefer to be clean-shaven, but the rich history of men’s facial hair along with studies revealing men’s and women’s fondness toward beards are reasons to reconsider growing facial hair yourself. If a beard seems to be too much of a leap, try sporting a thin, well-trimmed mustache. Many individuals underestimate their beard-growing potential and neglect to experiment with it. Embrace your happiness and bask in its glory.

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