Lincoln, Tolstoy, Santa Claus, Marx, Gandalf, Che Guevarra, King Leonidas, Jesus, Chuck Norris.
Yes, I know you know where I’m going with this. And I also know that you have your own favorite hirsute-face hero.
Before we go debating though about who’s the beardest of them all, read on and dedicate a lousy five minutes to know more about man’s facial hair phenomenon.
THIS IS SPARTAAA!!
Before Leonidas kicks my puny, shaven face to the bottom of the dark Spartan pit, a quick rundown of the different types of face carpets is in order:
image from http://learnbydiagram.blogspot.com/2011/09/learn-about-facial-hair-styling.html
“Mommy, what are beards and where do they come from?”
In his book “The Descent of a Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Darwin claimed that “Sexual Selection” has something to do with the evolution of beards. But what exactly is “Sexual Selection”? More importantly, did Darwin grow his beard after discovering it or was it vice-versa? Will I have a better chance of being sexually-selected by my hot officemate if I had a beard? This I have to know now!
Sexual Selection is a part of the natural selection process (also by Darwin) where some individuals out-reproduce others because they are better at securing mates.
A lion with a darker and fuller mane will likely have a better chance of being selected as a mate when compared to another lion whose mane is as thick as Howie Mandel’s soul patch. A peacock with a more intricate and colourful tail feather is Ryan Gosling abs to a peahen’s eyes. On the other hand, male species whose looks seem to be stuck in a state of infinite-puberty (read: underdeveloped) will have a smaller chance of sexual congress whenever challenged or compared with an alpha male.
To beard or not to beard
Modern biologists still subscribe to Darwin’s dogma about the role of sexual selection in the evolution of man’s beard by declaring that there is evidence that a majority of females find men with beards more attractive than his bald-faced counterparts.
But before we proceed to throwing our shaving accessories away because of this new-found knowledge, a study published by the Royal Society journal Biology Letters tells us that a Face + Beard = Win formula is not always true. Thank heavens. God knows I can only grow tangled nose hairs. Damn you genes.
According to the study:
“Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common, with intermediate preferences when intermediate frequencies of beardedness were presented. Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare. This pattern in preferences is consistent with negative frequency-dependent selection.”
Simply put, the majority of votes will go to the person whose features are unique in a certain group.
This means that to an Amish girl, my zero-hair-follicle face has a chance of being as drool-worthy as Channing Tatum’s. Well, at least when I’m thrown in a group of her Honest Abe-looking friends. Now I know that God is just.
But friends, I’ll be honest. I’m a fan of beards. To me it’s a snapshot of a man’s rawness and grit, a hardened alpha-male aura if you will. That unwieldy mess of hairs (or trimmed, depends on your preference) probably captures the manliest “I’m a man!” moment of a guy’s life.
Just ask Leonidas. Or the Duck Dynasty clan.
If I could, I would — grow a beard like a true man should.