Is a Bearded Man a Real Man?

I love a great beard.  Maybe it’s because my first hero, my dad, has always had one and I don’t know the aesthetics of a man to be any different. In fact, I always wonder how annoying it must be to shave your face – almost as annoying as shaving our underarms, I’m sure.  It’s become a huge trend over the last couple of years, and the phenomenon is not coming to and end any time soon. Once ridiculed as a hipster trend by those who struggled their way through patchy tufts of facial hair that hesitated to grow, it’s become evident that the beard is here to stay.

I started to think about it. Is it maybe that just like women, men are returning to natural looks and an elevated sense of personal discovery and experimentation with body hair in a mostly clean-shaven world? The return of pubic hair is also becoming a trend amongst open-minded, non-conformative women, so it's possible that we are returning to a more natural approach to our body hair.I remember as a child how my grandmother would flip out if my older brother had stubble on his face. It was just not acceptable. Almost like tattoos and piercings – it's  “alternative” and not always something the majority will like or accept. In many parts in the world, beards are considered as unprofessional in the work place and in other parts, regarded as very significant in the workplace. So it really comes down to cultural conditioning, but there are some very real findings in the pursuit of the ultimate beard.

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Beards are the future. They protect men against harmful UV rays, which results in less ageing on the face. That beard can catch all kinds of allergy inducing particles we breathe in everyday, relieving those sinus issues too.  But most interestingly, woman find it sexy.  This is not just my opinion, but scientific fact.  A study found that women prefer men with heavy stubble over a clean-shaven face when it comes to overall appearance. Women also rated men with heavy beards having high parenting potential and good overall health.  So it not only looks healthy, but it also tricks ovulating women into thinking he can protect her family too. Other studies also found that on the flipside, men with beards tended to be less caring, cheerful and giving. I wonder what St. Nic thinks of that study?

However, science isn’t the only factor when it comes to your likes and dislikes, some people just have opinions. Some love facial hair and others despise it – male and female. I asked my Facebook followers what their preferences are regarding facial hair and although the majority said they prefer stubble, here are some of my favourite responses: 

"I think stubble and a full beard can look very attractive, but I find I tire of the look quite soon and prefer a smooth face. I can't even tell you why, it just is more aesthetically pleasing to me". - Catherine 38
"For winter, heavy stubble or full beard and in summer, light stubble or clean-shaven. We dont have beards to impress women we have beards for ourselves. Why? Because shaving is, well shaving. It gives me a sense of freedom from the social norms demanded by life". - Nic 32 
"I love my full beard! It's an accomplishment to grow and it looks fucking remarkable"! - Peter, 37
"I despise facial hair. It scratches. It irks. It repulses. Bleurgh, gimme a man who shaves"! - Susan, 33
"Some men look gorgeous with full beards and some look better shaved. Also, a man should only grow a beard if he can pull it off - in other words the man must wear the beard and not the other way around". - Alida, 40
"I love a full beard. Have always preferred that look. I find it (for lack of a better explanation) very raw manly. - Emma, 34

There are many factors, including cultural ones that determine an individual’s preference about body hair, but if your man happens to have a beard, it gives you an opportunity to groom those bushy whiskers and in the process brings you two closer. You trim his beard and he’ll wash your hair. Great deal, so go have fun with it!