There's Some Pretty Bad News for Men With Beards
Society has reached the moment of "peak beard," at least according to science. A new study out of the University of New South Wales has revealed that largely due to its over-abundance, the reign of the hipster fashion beard is finally nearing its end.
The research focused on the beard's role in a man's sex appeal, asserting that a bearded man's attractiveness is directly proportional to how often beards are seen. The more people see beards, the less attractive they find them.
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The researchers showed over 1,500 people photographs of 36 men with varying degrees of facial hair (full beard, stubble, clean-shaven) and the participants ranked the bearded men according to attractiveness. The research found that people who saw more beards were less attracted to them.
But these results aren't just a matter of fashion and petty preferences. They're a direct result of evolutionary genetics.
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The study confirms the principle of "negative frequency-dependent selection" (NFD), which is that people are often attracted to what's unusual. Beards were (for a moment) unusual. Now they're not, and therefore they are less appealing.
Of course, there are reasons beyond fashion that people grow beards — religion being one of them. The link between beards and masculinity is another factor — warriors of yore grew them in times of battle and today's sports teams and Mo-vember participants grow them in times of particular brethren solidarity.
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The trend of beards as fashion statements is now a decade old and as researcher Richard Brooks put it, "These trends usually move in 30-year cycles from when they are first noticed but, with the Internet, things are moving a lot faster." A decade in Internet years is like 30-years in normal years, so it's really just math that beards are coming to an end.
This news will cause either extreme revelry or extreme despair in the streets of every city's hipster hood. We're excited for bearded fetishization to take a short vacation, at least until fashions change and beards are back.
Image Credit: Daniel Ebersole