It started out as a joke. My husband decided that he should, nay needed, to grow a beard to celebrate the birth of our daughter. His sole purpose? To take the iconic ‘dad with a beard holding his newborn baby’ photo that was de rigeuer circa the 1960s and 1970s. But here he is, six year later, still sporting a full face of facial hair. And you know what? He hates it. The only reason he has kept the beard is for me and our young daughter. So when I read about the study that suggested that men with beards aren’t more attractive to women, I had to object.
First I should mention that I’m generally not a beard lover. But on my husband’s face, it just works. He looks mature, smart and sexy. Don’t get me wrong, he looks great without it too, but now – after six years – the beard is just something we’ve all gotten used to. He doesn’t enjoy having a beard himself. It’s itchy, takes more maintenance than he’d like, and did I mention that he thinks it’s itchy? But he likes to make his ladies happy (ladies being my daughter and I). He has shaved it off a couple of times and although I was a-okay with having a clean-faced hubby, my daughter was distraught. A bearded dad was all she knew.
But it turns out our admiration for my husband’s beard isn’t a given. According to a new study, “women … do not rate bearded faces as more attractive than clean-shaven faces,” the researchers stated in the journal Behavioral Ecology.
The researchers gauged the reactions to photographs of men with and without beards. The LA Times noted of the study, “both men and women said that with beards, the men looked older and more aggressive than they did with their beards shaved. The viewers also ascribed higher social status to the men when they were bearded than when they were baby-faced. Women said that the clean-shaven faces were more attractive than the whiskery ones.”
So although men without beards were deemed more attractive, men with beards are seen as stronger in a Darwinism sort of way. The LA Times noted that, “natural selection favored bearded faces because hairier men were more successful at conveying aggression and securing loftier social status.”
“These findings suggest that beards play a stronger role in signaling a man’s age, social status and potential threat than in augmenting physical attractiveness,” researchers wrote.
I for one, love my husbands beard but he’s attractive with or without it. What do you think of men with beards?
Image: I Made You A Beard