It may not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent a lot of time in hipster coffee shops or gentrifying urban neighborhoods, but scientists say we are reaching “peak beard.” That’s the point when, according to researchers at the University of South Wales, facial hair becomes so prevalent that clean-shaven men are a comparative rarity and therefore more attractive to the opposite sex. More and more men will be inspired to grab their razors and start shaving, and the current era of the facially hirsute man will fade into history, at least until cyclical trends return the beard to favor.
The eggheads call it “negative frequency-dependent sexual selection.” I call it the worst thing to happen to men in years.
Just think what men would be losing if the beard was to slip out of fashion. A proud symbol of masculinity, that you can wear on your face, for the whole world to see. A whole new area of self-expression, where you can display your individuality through architectural grooming. A mask to cover unsightly blemishes, or an unusually large medial cleft. A facial trompe l’oeil to give the appearance of a chin.
Before beards became broadly fashionable in recent years, the metrosexual look prevailed — a disaster for those, like me, who awake every morning with a fresh dusting of stubble on their chin. Simpering, bare-faced men were our fashion icons in the 1990s/2000s — from the beta males of Friends to pre-teen lookalikes like Justin Timberlake — a depilatory trend that slowly crept from men’s faces to below their chins and inside their shirts. It was an era where the term “manscaping” entered the lexicon, the utterance of which geologists have discovered literally causes our cavemen ancestors to spin in their graves.
Is this really the world we want to return to? A world where those with above average testosterone must face the daily ritual of scraping a razor blade across their face, leaving their skin raw, shiny and unprotected? A time when bold, bristly men must go bare-faced into the world? Are guys really going to take that on the chin?
Those who would prefer their men to look more like a Canadian Sphynx than a Bearded Collie should remember what came before the naked-faced look. Something far worse, a trend that every man alive at the time looks back on with a shudder. Yes, the era of the mustache — from the 1970s version that drooped over the top lip like a fur scarf, to the 1980s Magnum P.I. edition. And that gave way to the 90s’ goatee, last seen nestling beneath Tom Green’s nose like a malevolent sea anemone.
So it’s in everyone’s interest to prevent this cycle from renewing again. Let the beard reach its peak and keep on growing.