by Andrew Shodi
The obvious answer is androgens such as testosterone, but if that answer satisfies you, let’s be honest,reading probably isn’t your cup of tea to begin with. What reason do you think men have for their ability to grow facial hair? The theories are endless but a few stand out more than the others.
Attracting a mate. So many animals have specific ornaments to show strong, healthy genetics making them a suitable mate to reproduce with. Members of the deer family have antlers, peacocks have their feathers, and so on and so forth. Symbols of growth, vitality, and heath. Makes sense that facial hair would work the same way except for one curious detail. Not all women find facial hair attractive. No need to read that last sentence twice, you read it right. Not all women find facial hair attractive. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, numerous surveys have been done. In some decades, women favor facial hair. In others, not so much. Some studies have come out to be pretty even. Maybe during some time in history there was a universal attraction to a man’s beard, but not in today’s society. Has nurture trumped nature or was our beard’s intended purpose something other than attracting a mate?
Establishing dominance. Some have believed that a lustrous mane would make other men think twice about crossing their path or going after the same woman. This is supported by studies where people find bearded men to look more aggressive and intimidating. Not just other men, but women too. Clean shaven men are often seen as a more stable, gentler man. Possibly implying that this type of man would make a better partner for raising a family and assuming the father figure role to care for offspring. If the goal was to ward off competition, why would it also ward off the prize of that very competition? Too be fair, some studies have shown that some women prefer a man with stubble. Maybe the reasoning behind this is a man showing the ability to grow prominent facial hair, but without a bestial, aggressive look, while retaining kinder features. Again, this preference only represents a fraction of the female population. A fraction during specific decades. Preferences for anything, including a man’s facial hair, will more than likely always vary throughout the decades.
There is no definite answer that I could find. One of my own theories is that God could have made men’s acial hair vary so much throughout our history to suit the time period we were passing through. Our ability to pass on genetics and for them to adapt for our wellbeing could be one of God’s many gifts to man. We occasionally make discoveries that can give us a glimpse as to the purpose of what He’s done, but only glimpse. A glimpse that can’t even be fully trusted. Trying to understand the complexities of God’s thought process and reasonings is like trying to fit the ocean in your bathtub.
We may never know the true purpose of facial hair, but we sure are thankful for it.
A huge thanks to Andrew for this great look into some of the theories behind why men have beards!
Stay Sharp. Stay Savage.