Beards, Shaving and History: Why do men have beards?

Beards, Shaving and History: Why do men have beards?

There are really a lot of various differences between men and women, both physically and psychologically. One of the interesting physical differences is related to men’s beards. In comparison to other mammals, humans are more or less bald, still men have more hair on their faces in comparison to women. In reality this is not quite true, as women also have facial hair, but the fact is that it is not that thick and dark, as men’s. Scientifically this fact could be explained by the presence and impact of the sex hormone – testosterone. Exactly this hormonal feature explains this difference in appearance of men and women. Actually beard is a unique differentiating trait, as all the rest-differentiating features are mostly related to reproduction.

Professor Rob Brooks, an evolutionary biologist at the University of New South Wales stated that there are two key processes, which are responsible for shaping of the evolution of sex-dependant traits, including beards. One is related to the advantage in competition with other representatives of the same sex and the second one is related to being attractive to the representatives of the opposite sex. Beards could be considered belonging to both categories, which is a proof that beards are not simply an accidental feature of evolution. At the same time it is not possible to state, whether presence or absence of beard is an absolute factor, as some women like beard and other women do not like. Biologically beards could be seen as a sign of crankiness or masculine feature, at the same time modern life is much more sophisticated, consisting of multiple aspects and spheres, and it is not related only to biology. Modern social systems could not be built purely upon biologic characteristics.

This is a rather interesting fact, but women are not really interested in beards. Some ladies like some facial hair by men, other women prefer a lot of facial hair on men, finally there is a category of women, who like clean-shaven looks. This means that even in the past beards had more significant meaning, they have lost it in the process of evolution and nowadays there is a plenty of other factors, which might impact ladies and their choices. Certainly there were various historic periods, when beards became a part of fashion and most of men preferred to have them. This kind of fashion could be explained by the fact that irrespective of little connection between beards and testosterone level, men with beards were perceived as stronger, wiser and more aggressive. Such individuals could have potentially more mating opportunities, in other words – dominate. Again beards could not be treated as the only feature, contributing to creating the image of dominance; there are other features, for example voice, which should be also considered. Having a beard or shaving it away is nowadays a matter of individual choice, formally it does not have a great meaning, and still beards contribute to creating a certain dominant image.

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