By Bill Derby
I had no plans to join the hairy mass of males growing beards or leaving a shaveless week’s growth of stubble coming out my face, but it happened. Mostly, I forgot to shave or didn’t care what I looked like while enjoying a week of beach vacation. Judy didn’t mention it for the first few days. She then noticed my scruffy look while we ate lunch at a nice restaurant.
“Aren’t you shaving this week?” she asked.
“Oh, I haven’t even thought about it, but maybe I’ll just grow a little beard,” I answered. “You know you’ve been getting on me for dropping food on my shirts. Maybe a little facial hair will catch some of my mouth droppings. You know beards are considered ‘nature’s natural napkin,” I added.
She replied, “I don’t like beards and they are sticky.”
Once I had a full beard. This one, I decided, will be a more conservative subtle goatee. “Remember, Judy, our preacher lets his beard grow. It can’t be all bad,” I declared.
It’s been two weeks and I’ve noticed at least half or more of all local males are growing beards or have had them for years. It’s hairy out there in Washington County. Most of the members in our band sport beards or mustaches except our girl singers. My son, Jeff, has had a full beard for a few years. His mom thinks it covers his ‘handsome square jaw.’
I did some research for this column on why men grow beards. Obviously not all physiologists, scientists and even women will agree with their assumptions.
Some of the everyday reasons men grow beards include:
1. Beards look cool- Man I agree with that. Just look at that guy on TV selling beer. He’s ‘the most interesting man in the world. HE’S GOT A BEARD.
2. Another reason—“Someone else suggests it. It’s a journey towards hairy glory. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to change your life for the better and before you know it, you’ll be encouraging friends to do the same.” No one told me to grow a beard but I felt peer pressure even at age 69.
3. Staying warm: Makes perfect sense if you’ve lived in the frigid north. Look at those sled dog racers in Alaska. If you’ve seen the Iditarod Sled Dog Race you will notice the sled dog drivers’ beards have frozen to their sleds. It helps them hold on around sharp corners.
4. Utter laziness: Many of us fall into this category. It’s a pain shaving every morning. Razor nicks, blood, ingrown hairs, pimples and other obstacles create shaving hazards. The Bro Council has determined lazy is good.
5. Covering up what’s beneath: On some men, hiding one’s face behind a follicle forest is good. Some women may never know what their husbands or boyfriends really look like.
Sometimes Judy will let me use the word, ‘sex’ in my columns. This is one of those times and it’s scientific. The last was in 2003.
According to scientists I found these developments: “They now think they may have solved one of the great mysteries of the age. Why are so many of today’s men growing beards?
“Published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, Dr Cyril Grueter and colleagues were investigating the idea that in big societies, male primates have developed increasingly ostentatious ‘badges’ which may enhance male sexual attractiveness to females and give them the edge over other males.” There’s that sex word.
Other physiologists say, “There are women who love men with beards. They consider such men ‘macho’ and can protect them in case of danger. In the natural order of things, women are known to want men who can take care of them. Since a beard is often associated with strength by such women, they are automatically attracted to them.”
There are plenty of other reasons men grow beards too. Here are a couple of more earthy reasons I discovered.
“The answer, according to The University of Western Australia researchers, is because men are feeling under pressure from other men and are attempting to look aggressive by being more flamboyant with their whiskers.”
“In 1969 Freedman reported that female students rated a bearded male face as more masculine, mature, independent, and sophisticated than a non-bearded face. Similarly, both Roll and Verinis (1971) and Kenny and Fletcher (1973) found students to rate a bearded face as more masculine, strong, and sincere, but also more dirty (versus clean). Pancer and Meindl (1978) found beardedness to lead to more positive ratings. However, Feinman and Gill (1977) found their female students to like least a man with a beard.”
Please note the above study was conducted during the ‘Hippie Phase,’ an absolute abstract time in history as indicated complications of long hair and facial growth are listed in the below paragraph.
“Biologists William Hamilton and Marlene Zuk suggested in a 1982 paper in Science that bearded men are advertising their healthy immune systems: Beards, like other body hair, are a known breeding ground for parasites. Recently, they’ve been shown to host bed bugs and sand fleas.”
That’s a major YUK! I plan on washing and shampooing weekly.
If you like to watch professional golf, which most women don’t, you will see a number of players with beards and whiskers. They say it helps their golf swing.
“As I live and die, a better golf swing….that’s the reason for my facial growth, it ain’t to look sexy.”