Question: Dear Woman,
What’s with women loving guys with beards? Seems like out of nowhere, every attractive woman I see is holding hands with a grizzly man. Is this the new thing? Since I can’t grow a respectable beard, should I just give up on trying to date until the trend dies down? –Sincerely, Clean Shaven and Alone
Dear Clean Shaven and Alone,
As with anything, there are a myriad of reasons why some women are attracted to the bearded man or, as I like to call them, the bearded dragons.
There are also many different types of beards: the wizard beard, which is often braided and sometimes decorated with bits of colored twine or crystal beads; the gamer beard which is almost always wispy and comes in stark contrast to with the ashen face of a man who doesn’t see much sun; the metal beard, an untamed chaotic replica of the wearer’s wild soul; the patchy, awkward growth of a boy not yet a man. Then there’s The Confucius, The Rasputin, The Marx and The Darwin, all historic, bold choices that evoke a weathered hysteria and the slightest hint of insanity.
For each beard, there’s a woman that finds each of these looks attractive. That woman is not me. I personally enjoy the weathered, outdoorsy, Paul Bunyan look, so that’s the attraction I’ll attempt to explain to you.
I think women like me associate the beard with other manly Paul Bunyan-like traits, such as chopping down pesky trees and befriending injured woodland creatures. Humility, strength, communing with nature and a gentle, yet outlaw, attitude are attributed with this facial hair.
It conjures up the image of a man who does not trust authority, while simultaneously painting a picture of a poetic, transcendent soul, someone who spends his evenings watching the setting sun while sitting on a porch he built himself. He’s whittling bowls for porridge while his faithful hound snoozes at the toe of his scuffed work boot.
For some reason, my beard of choice on a man also makes me think he would make a good father, and I’m not alone in that assumption. Conversely, the clean cut metrosexual man immediately makes me think of Patrick Bateman flexing in front of the mirror, his plastic-covered furniture glistening behind him, a spatter of blood decorating his bulging bicep. So the choice comes down to: potentially decent mate and father to my children, or self-absorbed, glistening sociopath. Tough call.
But that’s just me. Plenty of woman are actually turned off by beards and prefer the clean cut look. Though I don’t see the beard trend going away anytime soon, it has gotten less authentic and, therefore, less attractive to people who likened it to authenticity in the wearer.
Sadly, the Paul Bunyan look has become monopolized by almost everyone, including yuppies. I imagine if American Psycho were written today, Bateman would likely trade his pinstripe suits for a fitted RRL virgin wool flannel shirt and slouchy cashmere beanie with intentional distressing. There’s nothing worse than a man representing himself as a rugged, hippie, outdoorsy type when in fact he has never slept outside, built a fire, or scampered naked through the woods on acid. That’s just false advertising.
Basically, every asshole has a beard these days. Take a classic style and put it on the wrong person and it gets destroyed. Just look what those racist bigots on Duck Dynasty did to the beloved beard/long hair/bandana look that we used to associate with gentle free spirits like Willie Nelson. The beard means nothing anymore, so we women dig deeper than appearance when prowling for a mate. Just like we always have.
That’s the good news, Clean Shaven: beard or no beard, what women are really attracted to is confidence, humor, intelligence and authenticity. That’s the bottom line. If you’re being authentically yourself and confident in who you are (given that your authentic self has integrity and is not a total d-bag), women will see that and be attracted to you despite your lack of facial hair.
If that doesn’t work, you can always draw a beard on your face with sharpie, which I hear works like 8 percent of the time.
Ask A Woman is an anonymous advice column wherein this Asheville writer gives candid, honest advice about everything from consent to dating to harassment and whatever else you people cook up. I’m providing a platform of anonymity, not so either of us can hide behind invisibility, but to eliminate egos and insecurities and cut out the bullshit in an effort to perpetuate education. If you would like to ask me a question for my column, drop me a line here. -Eve S. Dropper