Thursday, October 7, 2010

Of Beards, Moustaches & the Macho Man

Everything you wanted to know about Beards but were afraid to ask.

Off late, I have been reading quirky wacky stuff off the web. An eBook I recently read was all about beards and how much they mean to manhood (and I always thought my fellow brethren only worried about their wiener).

Apparently, the credit for this distinction goes to some psychologist named Robert J. Pellegrini, who it seems published a report some years ago about his (hairy) experiments aimed at finding out how beardedness affects the male personality and in his own words how “the male beard communicates a heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer – ready, willing and able to do manly things.”

Let’s face it. Thousands of years ago beards were all the fashion, if there was such a thing as fashion then. Anyway, there was not much men could do about it. If nature wanted them to grow a beard, they grew it, that's all there was to it. Obviously, technology had not yet advanced to the level, that men could make a tool to remove it, like you can today.

Nevertheless, beards were not only associated with masculinity and manliness, but also wisdom and being a triumphant fighter. There are very good reasons for this. The presence of a thick moustache or a beard or together is associated with high levels of testosterone. This male hormone also contributes to aggression, and so a man who was more aggressive, would probably be a better hunter, a better soldier, as well as being more virile, good reasons for a woman to find such a man more attractive.

However, one thing that does puzzle me at the moment; why were beards out of fashion during the Victorian era? Was it because men who grew beards were thought to be uncivilized, or was it the women who decided it was unfashionable to be seen in the company of a man who had a beard? Somehow, that last part does not sound right, that's if we understand correctly how the brain processes facial information. Facial recognition is considered so important by people that there is a special part of the brain allocated only to face recognition. If women have associated beards with virile men for hundreds of thousands of years, and have used them as one of their important selection criteria why should they suddenly have rejected the beard?

It seems Pellegrini used several full-bearded young men in their early twenties who were photographed in different stages, from full beard to clean-shaven. The photos were shown to male and female psychology students who were then asked to rate the pictures for their “first impression personality traits” of the subjects.

Pellegrini found that the hairier the face, the more the subject was perceived as being masculine, mature, handsome, dominant, self-confident, courageous, liberal and non-conforming. Other adjectives the students applied to the pictures of bearded subjects were “intelligent, strong, healthy and likeable”. So Pellegrini thus concluded that hairy faced men are tops. In fact, he commented that “inside every clean-shaven man there is a beard screaming to be let out”.

After talking to many of my friends and kindred who all have beards of various degrees (and if you take a look around you will notice there are a lot of them!), I have discovered they all seem to share Pellegrini’s hairy hypothesis. Most, when asked why they grew a beard, eventually come out with the notion that facial hair is manly. There are other reasons, too, of course, but the macho motive seems paramount.

Around the world, it seems, many men do flaunt their fuzz in numerous ways. In the USA and Europe, there are numerous beard and moustache clubs, the oldest being the OAFH or the ‘Organisation for the Advancement of Facial Hair’ based somewhere in California whose motto is to “aid those who have been discriminated against due to their growing of the godlike matter”. Germany has many of these – so many that there is even an association for them all. For example, the “Bart und Schnorres club” or the Beard and Moustache Club of the Black Forest village of Hofen-Enz is the hamlet’s main claim to fame and its members organize numerous championship events for beard-growers. Rip van Winkle would be delighted!

In the United Kingdom, the famous “Handlebar Club” is based at the Windsor Castle pub in London, and has members sporting impressive “handlebar” moustaches from all around the world (please note, beards are not allowed here!) but thger are many across the UK. In Italy, moustaches are in too – the “Festival dei Baffi” (Festival of Moustaches or the Grand festival of Whiskers) is held annually in the town of Montemesola, in the south of Italy.

Beards are growing in popularity on the Internet too. Just browse Facebook or Google and you will find scores of websites, groups and fan pages on the art of beards and moustaches. Besides, there are many on-growing beard challenges present online – a page featuring progressive photographs documenting the success of numerous contenders who conform to the rule that “your beard must be at least six months old or three inches below the chin”. The beard challenges come with a warning though: don’t expect frequent updates because progress is measured in years!

So, if you are of those types who are convinced that you do need some facial fluff; here are some tips, gleaned from those who have taken the bold step, on how to grow and maintain a bountiful beard:

Take A Break: You don’t need snide comments about your stubble from your boss and colleagues, and you need to be relaxed to promote healthy hair growth! And perhaps, your new beard will project a more mature image of you. Think about it -you might just get that long due promotion, the cops dont stop you on the road, the neighbors fear you and the women, yes, the women mau find you hairy hottt!

Throw Away Your Razor: If the family protests, tell them it is your face and you are just experimenting. Convince them that you will be a better person with a beard. By the time it is fully-fledged, they will no doubt agree or will have become so used to the new you, that they won’t object any more.

Sculpt a Style: You may be impatient to start sculpting your beard so having a mental image of how you would ultimately like it to look helps. Even if you plan to end up with a little goatee, don’t try to mould it immediately. Great sculptors need something concrete to work on so for the first few weeks just let it grow ad lib. Avoid the temptation to reach for the beard trimmer, razor or scissors!

Forget the Itch: While the hair is growing, you may be annoyed by itchy skin. This is temporary while your skin adjusts to its new covering. Don’t be put off. Make sure you keep your new beard clean by shampooing each day with a mild shampoo, and even conditioner; and rinse very thoroughly to avoid flaking and itching. Don’t blowdry your beard – patting with a towel will do.

Seek Professional Help: After about a month, you will be ready for shaping up. It is best now to consult a barber or hairstylist – ask around among your bearded mates for advice on finding an experienced professional. Now you can go shopping for a beard trimmer and get some pointers on how to use it.

Use The Right Tools: Use a wide-toothed comb for grooming your beard. Never trim your beard while it is wet, because wet hair looks longer, and you may trim off too much.

See, it’s simple – so why not get growing your very own super cool beard?

1 comment:

  1. Nice way of promoting beards and moustaches :)
    chk mine too and support


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...