March 23, 2006

Beards.

They're back!
[Vice magazine's ad director John] Martin's idea of a style symbol, seriously, is Ulysses S. Grant, whose beard he came to admire after watching the 2003 Civil War-era drama "Cold Mountain." Two years ago, when he began experimenting with different beard styles, which he described as ranging from neat to burly to unkempt, his facial hair was an expression of individuality in a tide of metrosexual conformity. Now 10 of his 15 co-workers at Vice wear full, bushy beards. In that, they vie with the pro-facial-hair contingent of an editorial rival, Spin, where a rash of new beards has broken out.

"It's a sign of the times," Mr. Martin said. "People are into beards right now."
NOOOO!
No survey ever conducted about women's attitudes toward beards, even those not underwritten by the Gillette Company, has indicated that more than 2 or 3 percent of women would describe a full beard as sexy. ("I hang out with those girls who are in that 2 or 3 percent," Mr. Martin, of Vice, said.)
Can we have a little sanity? Martin's found the girls who are into this?

50 comments:

Al Maviva said...

It's not the beards that are a turn-on, it's the other things they are associated with. What delightful debutante could help but succumbing to the lure of enormous pot bellies, cologne made of coal ashes and hog parts, and the tendency of the bearded men of that era to set the Pinkertons on union agitators?

Ex-cellent.

/s
C. Montgomery Burns

L. Ron Halfelven said...

Sure, girls are into that. The more of 'em you've got in your wallet, the better.

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

Women don't like men with beards?

That's OK, I prefer my women clean shaven too.

Goesh said...

Ha ha Paul! I have never considered my neatly trimmed beard sporty or sexy. I have always relied on a money clip fat with crisp $100.00 bills to impress people more than the whiskers. I dread to think what my good wife of many years really thinks of my beard. Thanks alot for nothing, Ms. Ann.

AnechoicRoom said...

But notebooks are out ...

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-03-21-professor-laptop-ban_x.htm?POE=TECISVA">

'Law professor bans laptops in class, over student protest'

Balfegor said...

Can we have a little sanity? Martin's found the girls who are into this?

Not a girl, but I think he looks fairly distinguished there. Now, a beard like old Lord Salisbury -- that would be going a bit far. But this seems fine to me. Where is the problem?

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me get this straight. Women for a long time have been dressing more for other women than for men. But when men try this, there is something apparently wrong with it. Hipocracy anyone?

Ron said...

If Grant had conducted the Vicksburg Campaign in shorts as well, Ann would 'esplode!

Listless Lawyer said...

Via this old post by Joshua Newman, I note that:

"Men with beards are perceived as stronger, more masculine, dominant, competent and composed, and more socially and physically attractive then men without facial hair. (See Reed, J.A. and Blunk, E.M. (1990) The influence of facial hair on impression formation. Social Behavior and Personality. 18 : 169-175; and Addison, W.E. (1989) Beardedness as a factor in perceived masculinity. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 68: 921-922.)"

Palladian said...

Real men have beards. Deal with it!

Hell, I'm not trying to impress the ladies so what do I care anyway? I've had a beard or goatee ever since I could grow one, partly because it balances my face nicely and partly because I absolutely despise shaving.

The only requirement for men with beards is that they are kept neatly (or semi-neatly). I hate the scraggly hippie-hipster beards that are popular in my neighborhood. And nothing weird. I don't want to see a bunch of Chester A. Arthurs in ironic t-shirts and ill-fitting pants wandering around Williamsburg.

bearbee said...

"Men with beards are perceived as stronger, more masculine, dominant, competent and composed, and more socially and physically attractive then men without facial hair"

USMC take note.......

Marghlar said...

My wife prohibits me from shaving, although she does demand a well-trimmed beard. I guess she is one of those 2-3 percent.

I'm just waiting patiently for the Fu-Manchu mustache to come back into style.

Long live the Fu!

BrianOfAtlanta said...

My wife has always said I could grow a beard... and whenever I decided that I wanted to be kissed by her again, I could shave the thing off.

jinnmabe said...

partly because I absolutely despise shaving. sing it, brother. And I'm confused by the article. Martin came to admire Grant's beard after he saw an actor portraying Grant with a beard in a movie? That's like saying "boy, I came to love Johnny Cash's voice after watching "Walk the Line."" Maybe it's just the phrasing that's confusing me, and he meant, "I watched the movie which inspired me to learn about the real US Grant, and then I saw his beard and whammo! Style revelation!

Smilin' Jack said...

It's also been my experience that most women don't like beards. That would seem to make beards a significant disadvantage in the Darwinian struggle to reproduce. So why, from the perspective of evolutionay biology, do men have them? Any ideas?

bearbee said...

Very romantic Beard

MadisonMan said...

So why, from the perspective of evolutionary biology, do men have them? Any ideas?

Food storage device, for times of famine.

I had a beard when I was younger, to look older. Now that I'm older, my beard is too gray, making me look too old, so it's gone 'til the hair color on my head catches up to the beard color.

I hate shaving.

I can't imagine voting for a bearded person running for President, btw. I guess I'm shallow that way. Something about a beard on elected officials is very offputting to me. Not sure what that is.

Ann Althouse said...

I'd like to see a picture of Grant as he looked in that movie.

Wade_Garrett said...

Eh, whatever. I doubt that the dislike of beards is anything ingrained, I think its just a generational fashion statement. For a long time goatees were fashionable, then full bears, then cleanshaven, then mustaches, etc.

I was born in 1980. Most of the men who were considered sexy in the 1970s and early 80s - Joe Namath, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck etc - look gayer than the Village People at Mardi Gras. In the 70's, short shorts, chest hair and mustaches appealed to women, in the 21st century it looks really gay. Sooner or later, women will dig it again. I think this sort of thing goes in waves. Beards will come back into fashion at some point, its only a matter of time.

Jonathan said...

Bruce Hayden wrote:
Let me get this straight. Women for a long time have been dressing more for other women than for men. But when men try this, there is something apparently wrong with it. Hipocracy anyone?

I don't think men grow beards to impress other men. I think they mainly do it because they like the look and/or dislike shaving.


"owpjm" -- hmm

Ann Althouse said...

The main reason for wearing a beard should be that you don't have a nice enough looking chin/jaw! If you do, you should shave so you'll get credit for it. Otherwise, we're going to assume you don't.

Squiggler said...

Right after my divorce, a friend got me to join a matchmaker online service. Take a look at some of those and the pictures of the guys over fifty. They all look like Kenny Rogers wannabes. Profile after profile of me in these short white or gray beards. My daughter-in-law said, "how can you tell one from another?" and I agreed with her. I figure it isn't an individuality thing, it is a way to hide double and triple chins.

Squiggler said...

profile of me should read "profile of men" ... sorry

bearbee said...

"And I'm confused by the article. Martin came to admire Grant's beard after he saw an actor portraying Grant with a beard in a movie?"

There may not have been an actor portraying Grant. imdb.com has no cast listing for Grant. He may have viewed photos of Grant after having seen the movie.

Rotten Tomatoes has Cold Mountain photos and trailer.

This site has Civil War still motion clips.

reader_iam said...

At various times, my father had a mustache, a beard, a mustache AND beard, and--aackk--long sideburns, as did his arty/academic friends, so I'm grew up with all of them.

The only style I pretty much categorically cannot abide is the long sideburns one. I've dated men from naturally not very hairy to clean-shaven to goatee'ed to ... well, you get the picture, but no one, ever, ever, ever with long side burns.

I also don't like the "shave every other day" approach--but not because of the look so much, but because it's freakin' dangerous. If I want dermabrasion, I'll pay for it, thank you, and undergo its effects in a medically sterile environment.

In short, almost anything but the (literally) sharp or--aack-- sideburns.

(Live and let live only goes so far ... )

vh: ogrzfa

Shame that the "z" wasn't at the end. Heh.

J said...

"Men with beards are perceived as stronger, more masculine, dominant, competent and composed, and more socially and physically attractive then men without facial hair. (See Reed, J.A. and Blunk, E.M. (1990) The influence of facial hair on impression formation. Social Behavior and Personality. 18 : 169-175; and Addison, W.E. (1989) Beardedness as a factor in perceived masculinity. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 68: 921-922.)"

Wow. I'll have to check that out and see who they surveyed. Having lived in several areas around the country, my impression has been that Americans have a varying level of innate suspicion of white and black men with facial hair (though regarding it as normal for middle eastern and hispanic men). It's lowest in the northeast and increases gradually as you go south and west. Note Madisonman's remark about elected officials.

"Most of the men who were considered sexy in the 1970s and early 80s - Joe Namath, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck etc - look gayer than the Village People at Mardi Gras."

One of the more amusing blog comments I've seen recently was someone (can't remember who) noting that the Elton John of the 70s makes the Elton John of today look like Clint Eastwood...

Sigivald said...

bearbee: The USMC has more important considerations regarding facial hair than perception.

Like a good seal on a chemical protection mask, which is impossible with a beard.

Wurly said...

Of course beards are sexy. Who in their right minds, male or female, doesn't think Nicole Kidman is sexy?

Abraham said...

Something about a beard on elected officials is very offputting to me. Not sure what that is.

It's probably memories of the evil bearded Spock. Don't forget that Lenin had an evil beard and that while both Stalin and Hitler lacked beards, they had distinctive mustaches to represent their facial hair. Perhaps we've just learned not to trust leaders with facial hair.

bearbee said...

"bearbee: The USMC has more important considerations regarding facial hair than perception."

My feeble attempt at sarcasm... I prefer clean shaven.

Jennifer said...

bearbee: I thought I read your comment that way. Chalk me up for clean shaven too.

SteveR said...

My wife does not like "beard burn" and since I like being close to her more than I dislike shaving, I usually shave once a day.

I have sensed for some men its a way to "rebel" and stay within the boundaries.

XWL said...

Well Mr. Sullivan latches onto this same article and presents his pro-beard thoughts.

(his sponsored links would seem to be in rebuttal to his article though, ads for Gillette's Fusion and the like are beneath his tribute to beardedness)

(plus he adds Jew-bear to my personal lexicon, hadn't heard that one before)

bill said...

One of the hundreds of gems buried in Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" is a satire of academic deconstruction proving white male privilege is the root of all evil, all stemming from beards. This is a small piece below and I've excerpted a much larger piece here

"The boundary between Self and Environment is a social con[struct]. In Western cultures this boundary is supposed to be sharp and distinct. The beard is an outward symbol of that boundary, a distancing technique. To shave off the beard (or any body hair) is to symbolically annihilate the (essentially specious) boundary separating Self from Other . . ."

And so on. The paper was rapturously received by the peer reviewers and immediately accepted for publication in a major international journal. Charlene is presenting some related work at the War as Text conference:

"Unshavenness as Signifier in World War II Movies." On the strength of her beard work, three different Ivy League schools are fighting over who will get to hire her.

Kathy said...

I love my husband's beard! When we first got married he had to shave it off because he took a job at a chemical plant (and the above-mentioned respirator seal issue mandated a clean-shaven face). When he changed careers the first thing he did was grow it back, and I was thrilled. His face when clean-shaven is never smooth, but once his beard grows out (1-2 weeks) it's not scratchy at all. The only time it's a problem now is if the mustache needs a trim.

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: Thanks for the link to Andrew Sullivan. So Sullivan likes the beards, and no survey of women has ever shown more than 3 percent like beards. Figure it out guys! You decide if you're going for the beard look. Try to fathom the mystery of what women see in men.

howzerdo said...

I don't remember the Grant character in Cold Mountain? But then I hated that movie so maybe I am blocking.

Being from a family with wonderfully abundant hair - it is not considered so awful. Maybe the disdain from some is jealousy from the hair challenged? One of my brothers grows a wonderful full beard in the winter, and shaves in the summer. Makes sense in the rural north! His wife doesn't complain. Anyway, beards may not be in fashion (in most places, that is) - but I am sure they will be again someday.
Gina

Kirk Parker said...

They're back? When did they ever go away?

Goesh said...

When I asked my wife what she really thought of my beard, she asked what I really thought of her perfumes. The silence of compromise is never overwhelming...

$CAV3NG3R said...

if only 3% of women like beards, does that mean something close to 90% of men shave because of women. No wonder the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.....

Judith said...

"a friend got me to join a matchmaker online service. Take a look at some of those and the pictures of the guys over fifty. They all look like Kenny Rogers wannabes. Profile after profile of me in these short white or gray beards. My daughter-in-law said, "how can you tell one from another?" and I agreed with her. I figure it isn't an individuality thing, it is a way to hide double and triple chins."

LOL!

Ditto. I hate that look. It's sort of the Sensitive New Age male therapist/social worker look.

Heather said...

Here's what I have to say about beards. It's worth a read if you don't know the story.

Beards creep me out.

hln

TW Andrews said...

Maybe guys just aren't as subject to manipulation by the opinions of the opposite sex.

Joseph White said...

reader_iam said: I also don't like the "shave every other day" approach--but not because of the look so much, but because it's freakin' dangerous. If I want dermabrasion, I'll pay for it, thank you, and undergo its effects in a medically sterile environment.

The reason some guys (like me) shave every other day isn't a fashion thing. It's because we don't grow enough facial hair to ensure a safe shave if we shave everyday. Shaving everyday results in my face being cut to shreds; the paradox being, the longer my facial hair, the less likely I am to nick myself.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Does James Bond wear a beard? Die Another Day doesn't count.

To all the dudes out there having difficulty scoring chicks, lemme give you some advice, because I score chicks all the time and not all of them are fat. When in doubt, ask yourself, What would James Bond do? Most of the time, that's the wrong thing, because you are not James Bond, you are just some dude. But in the case of beards, it's the right thing.

About old man beards. They are good because Sean Connery is James Bond.

Jarrod McCartney said...

Long live the mighty beard! I have decided to bring back the Karl Marx look. Ladies will know both my politics and my distinct, musky manliness!

As for hiding triple chins, can't you ladies tell whether or not a man is fat just by looking at him? How is a beard going to cover up your belly? Now, Sasquatch, he might be up to something. Probaby has a really small wang.

Tai Mu said...

Fashion Shmashin! Men have beards. Get over it. Not only do we appear stronger, more masculine, dominant, competent and composed, but we are!
There is a reason for our beards other than fashion, or what our ladies like. If we are being controlled by the women in our lives, we aren't very manly now are we? We should listen to our women, but not always act upon everything they want or see as necessary. WE ARE MEN! WE HAVE BEARDS! SO LET IT BE.

imuse said...

Beards are extremely unattractive. I would never kiss a man who has a face that looks like his hairy bum! I have never known one of my female friends to say that it is sexy, but many men think it’s sexy and manly! What is going on with that? I can’t have a conversation with a bearded man because I am always thinking about how it looks like he needs to own a piece of female anatomy on his face. I have a friend who is bearded, and he always plays with it as if he thinks he is sending me sensual signals (when all I can think is how nasty he looks). I don’t mind a neatly trimmed look, but would never want to have contact with it…lol! I think loads of dorks grows beards because they think it makes them a man. My friend just ends up chasing me away because he is so clueless. I tried to kiss a geologist once(sporting a beard of course) . He was so clueless how to kiss me with all that hair, that he actually sanded two layers of my skin off my face within only 3 minuets of kissing. To me a beard is a sign of insecurity and inconsideration. I suspect a relationship with a bearded man would end up being a situation of neglect. My basic response is normally ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww yuck! I would'nt suffer any man to look at unshaved arm pits at the dinner table nor anytime. Sometimes I think men who grow mangey beards do so because the best sex they ever have is with themselves.

Peter said...

Women who hate beards are unnattractive.

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