Photo by Albert Ceolan / De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images
Studies have shown that women perceive men with beards as more masculine and attractive. While there is appeal to the boyish look of a clean-shaven lad, the fullness and shape of a beard are often correlated with strength and masculinity. In fact, studies have shown that women are more attracted to men with beards overall. Throughout history, beards have been a symbol of status. Here we take examine their evolution.
Prehistoric men grew beards out of necessity
Prehistoric men were probably more concerned about survival than looking attractive, though attracting a nice cave lady was of course a priority for them as well. Good thing they could double up on the survival and procreation fronts by growing out a nice, plush beard. After all, the hormone testosterone — which is found in much higher in men and the cause behind the physical characteristics we associate with men — governs how male facial hair develops. Scientists believe beards also served to keep them warm. Having a face full of hair also served a protective purpose when they slept outside. Bonus: they also intimidated other men. History 101’s alternate theory: a lack of shaving cream and razors played a role.
In the 16th century, beards = manliness
Different styles (just as with hairstyles) of beards were popular in the 16th century. Some of the more common styles were the spade, the stilleto, the English square cut, and the rounded. During this era, having a beard was a symbol of masculinity, courage, and power. Men were perceived to be more manly and masculine if they had bigger and fuller beard, and almost all men in positions of power had full beards. It became common for men to grow out their beards to great lengths.
Beards’ big comeback
For a while in the 18th century, beard fell out of fashion. In fact, facial-hair fashion took a bizarre turn during this time. In their stead? Tights and big powered wigs (we don’t get it either). There was only one man who could bring back the beard: President Abraham Lincoln. As the first U.S. president to have a beard, Honest Abe brought beards back into fashion int he Untied States, though it was one of his lesser celebrated accomplishments.
The beard was in and out in the 20th Century
Beards were replaced by mustaches and goatees in the first half of the 20th century, but became popular again in the 1960s. Hippies were too busy smoking pot to shave, bu they weren’t the only ones embracing their facial hair. Businessmen also put doing their razors and let their beards grow out. The interest in growing a full beard took a dip in the latter part of the 20th century. Instead, powerful men opted for robust mustaches.
The beard is back
Since 2013, full beards are back in full affect. We can credit this, at least in part, to the hipster movement. It have become such an integral part of fashion that beard transplants became a thing. That’s right. Beard transplants. It’s no joke either — the procedure can cost upwards of seven grand. Though there’s been some push-pull in the beard trend over the centuries (and even millennia, if we count the cavemen) the beard always seems to grow back into fashion.