A man without a beard is like a lion without a mane. Inside every clean-shaven man there is a beard screaming to be let out. The function of manes in lions has been long debated since the time of Darwin, but it’s really just about appearances. Lions grow manes for the same reason most men grow beards. It’s not just ornamentation, it’s a sign of maturity, virility and health. The size and density of the mane can help a lion appear larger, more threatening and warns away possible opponents. A healthy mane suggests a body flooded with testosterone causing all the lady lions to swoon and it intimidates and scares off any other potential suitors (Blanchard, 2010). Like the lion’s mane, a mans beards, similar to my own, are widely assumed to fulfil a similar role of providing a visual aid to identification of gender at a glance, its associated with social dominance and it enhances attractiveness to potential mates. Those incapable of growing beards tend to be bitter and may be quick to point out that ninety eight per cent of the Forbes 100 richest men are clean shaven. But it is my opinion that ninety eight percent of the world’s most interesting men have beards, and a well grown beard can transform a pasty featureless face into one of a rugged manly hunk (Dixson & Brooks, 2013).For the past few years a number of predictions have declared that beards are dying – “Sorry guys, beards are over”…….. “Beards Aren’t Cool Anymore”.In reality this is merely the attempt of those suffering “beard envy” to sneer at the handsome lush growth us beard wearers have achieved. Their own attempt has usually resulted in a wispy embarrassing attempt, and they are destined to have to continue one of mankind’s most tedious daily tasks – shaving, whilst accepting men with beards are better.
The power of beards may go much further than merely making the grower more attractive. It may improve sporting performance because there appears to be something behind the beard that makes an athlete feel more confident in their performance. In 2013 a Californian company, West Coast Shaving, analysed the performance of six of the best quarterbacks playing within the NFL. The company compared the quarterbacks’ performance clean shaven to their performance with a beard. Whether it’s because facial hair kept their chins warmer during chilly North American winter games or it made them feel more manly and powerful, the results didn’t lie – every single quarterback on the list played better with a beard as opposed to clean shaven. The beard has made a major impact in the world of sports. There appears to be something magical in it that brings out the best in some athletes. But will it make you run faster, who knows?? But grow a beard, test it and respect it, remembering if you can grow a beard you should always show pity to those poor men who can’t.
Blanchard DC. (2010). Of Lion Manes and Human Beards: Some Unusual Effects of the Interaction between Aggression and Sociality. Front Behav Neurosci 3, 45.
Dixson BJ & Brooks RC. (2013). The role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities. Evolution and Human Behavior 34, 236-241.