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In Defense of Beards: Debunking Research That Facial Hair Isn't Sexy

Here's what women really think about facial hair.


It's been a bad week for beards. The Daily Mail fired the first shot: "Psychologists confirm: Women REALLY don't like beards‎." Tabloids around the world piled on. "Let's face it, beards aren't sexy," Sky News claimed. "Beards aren't attractive to women and scare other men away, study suggests," the Global News added.

As a woman who kind of likes beards, I was intrigued by the news that I found them scientifically repulsive. I shelled out $32 to read the full study on which the headlines were based—a Behavioral Ecology piece with the relatively subdued title, "Beards augment perceptions of men's age, social status, and aggressiveness, but not attractiveness." I was soon rewarded for my investment. This beard study is wild: It's peppered with references to "the fossil record" and discusses the evolutionary purpose of lion's manes in an attempt to understand the facial hair preferences of human women. At one point, the researchers remind us that "beards do not directly improve fighting ability." In fairness, they also attempt to debunk previous scientific literature that associates men's beards "with traits such as vagrancy."

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