Peak Beard or Hirsute Heaven.
Every so often I get asked for fashion advice. If you’ve ever met me this simple fact is hilarious and you’re probably unable to read the rest of the article because of laughter induced incapacitation.
It’s notable that most of these requests come via email.
Recently, the great beard debate has reached such proportions that I felt it was time to throw in my tuppeny’s worth to try and settle this hirsute hiatus.
Before I begin, I should point out that I am very far from piteously pious having been able to grow a beard since I was fourteen. For me, the early 2000s - when the clean shaven metrosexual sat at the apex of attraction – were a dating dessert. I would have stubble by mid-afternoon despite giving my face a good razor rash that very morning. You’d think I would be all in for the continuation of this facial cladding dominance.
Alas, the ‘facts’ speak for themselves.
So here are my top 5 reasons the beard is on its way out.
5) A beard is for life, not just for Christmas
Like a pet, a beard requires constant care. It’s a simple rule of numbers that the more men who jump on the hairy cool train, the higher the predominance of facial hygiene hell.
Those that originally championed the beard were cool because they took care of every aspect of how they looked. It was part of the ‘scene’ to be well presented. Nowadays, the simple act of not doing something – shaving – signals acceptance into what used to be a very exclusive club.
Sartorial laziness is not an attractive feature. Your beard is not a picnic basket.
4) Patience is a virtue
We live in a fast paced world. Let’s be honest, us guys are impatient. And patience is what is required when nurturing facial fungus. If you’ve never sported a beard and suddenly think it’s a good idea, beware the premature presentation.
What feels to you like a cuddly Grizzly Adams is in fact a highly dangerous weapon designed to scar for life any of those you choose to become intimate with. And by intimate it could be the most platonic of greetings. I’ve seen entire families hospitalised after a nephew or nieces birthday party.
Beards take time to grow. There is a significant difference between George Michael stubble and Kurt Russell in ‘The Thing’.
3) Pollution = leprosy
Even in this day and age, air quality in London is pretty appalling. I lived in Melbourne for ten years and could grow a beard with no problems whatsoever. Return to London and it’s rashes, dirt in the beard, regular itchiness, more rashes. Three times I tried and three times I had to give up.
And scratching my beard in front of the computer made my desk look like someone had dumped a crushed up packet of crisps in front of me. Try doing that while speed dating and see what reaction you get.
2) The man from uncle
Most of the research (tabloid articles) I’ve read suggest that women who like beards do so because of positive associations they have already established.
Positive associations. Sounds good right? When investigated further, these positive associations were predominantly with family role models, most notably a Father or Uncle.
You with beard says safety, comfort, security. All good?
Do you really want to date someone whose attraction to you is because you look like Uncle Terry who smelled of peanuts and used to bring gone off dairy milk chocolate bars over for Christmas and who died of liver failure but was always so nice to her?
1) And the number one reason why beards are on the way out?
Negative frequency-dependent sexual selection.
You heard me right. This is the point at which the beard becomes so prevalent that the clean shaven individual becomes a rarity, thus more valued. That’s right. The beard has become a victim of its own success.
The beard was cool until it became Cool, at which point it became decidedly uncool (and Uncle I guess – see point 2).
Bearded men, you have become so present in the daily lives of women your value is now minimal. Your frequency dependent value correlates directly with your sexual attractiveness. Thus, you aint it.
Which is a shame because growing a beard is one of the few things I can do really well with almost no effort.
The question is now, what comes next? I think I know what comes next in this time looped facial fashion cycle. Let’s just say, this handlebar matches my Spitfire pilot’s uniform perfectly.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS