Annemarie Quill: Take smooth, forget rough

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Hairy orang-utans with fat cheeks. Monkeys with warts on their lip and gnarly snouts.

You would swipe left on Tinder if you came across these guys.

But these apes are hoping for some monkey business from their female counterparts. Research led by The University of Western Australia's Dr Cyril Grueter investigated the hypothesis that in big, multilevel societies, male primates develop ostentatious 'ornaments' or 'badges'.

These include the elongated noses of proboscis monkeys, cheek flanges in orang-utans, capes of white and silvery hair in hamadryas baboons, reddened chests in geladas, upper-lip warts in golden snub-nosed monkeys.

The more competition the animals had amongst other males, the more flamboyant his hair-dos.

For humans, this includes beards.

What might work for a monkey, might not work for a man.

Are women attracted to beards? Men certainly seem to think so, given the trend over the last year or so for every second man to grow a grizzly bush on his face.

Why haven't all the single ladies hooked up then with these hirsute mates?

Tamsin Saxton, a UK psychology academic suggests in the Independent that "women don't seem that interested in beards. While some studies have found that women like a bit or even a lot of facial hair on men, other studies have reported that they prefer the clean-shaven look. The lack of consistent evidence means we can't conclude that beards evolved because women were attracted to them."

There are of course some women who like men with beards. Even people like me who avoid Santa's lap at Christmas can accept that a nicely groomed beard or a bit of David Beckham-style stubble can be perfectly fine, even if it does give your skin a free microdermabrasion on contact. Each to their own.

But extreme pogonophilia has got out of control. The sheer length and volume of some men's beards is to me excessive, unnecessary and bordering on the offensive.

The bushy beard look just doesn't quite wash in urban types who have never finished a day's work with blistered hands. Their biggest exertion is frothing the milk for your chai latte. The UK's Esquire magazine dubs them 'lumbersexuals'. Men who are part of the urban, even corporate world but adopt a look as if they are chopping down trees and surviving on a castaway island.

Christopher Oldstone-Moore talking about his book Of Beards and Men in Esquire magazine says this lumbersexuality is a way men are expressing themselves in a modern world.

"These are urban men, and urban men have always had a little bit of a problem with their masculinity, right? You're disconnected from nature when you're in the city, and when you have a job like you and I do, that deals with computers and words. So it's a challenge for men to find: 'What is nature to me? How do I connect with my natural masculinity.' So it's quite obvious with the Lumbersexuals: 'We're going to dress like we are in nature, like we cut down trees, and we're going to grow handsome long beards.' And that's a way for them to at least symbolically connect to the natural world."

According to this theory, the beard trend is a way men try to express their masculinity in an increasingly gender fluid world.

Or it could simply be because they think it makes them more attractive.

To the latter I would say: guys, lots of chicks do not dig big bushy beards.

Even Brad Pitt was a turn-off when he went all shaggy on us. There are exceptions of course and I am thinking Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.

But Leo could pull off the bushy look because he was playing a real man who slayed bears.

Most men cannot pull off this look. Sadly it seems like most men are trying. Personally I find it unappealing, even unsettling. There is something quite confrontational about a city man spouting the full on pubic-hair-on-the-face look.

To me, clean shaven will always be the preferable option. It is smarter, professional, and shows a man not only has respect for himself but also his women.

Many women go to grand efforts - and pain - to preen, wax, and beautify our good selves.

While some men do go to great lengths to groom their chin manes with special handcrafted beard waxes, beard oils, handmade wooden beard combs, and pomades, and special beard-shaping barbers, it seems to me some other men are jumping on the bushy beard trend because they are simply slobs who cannot be bothered to shave.

With no thought of hygiene, their bushy beards waft mustiness. Their salivated lips appear angry and accentuated, unable to cope with swallowing and masticating properly leaving a snail trail of their creamy latte in their wiry hairs, or flakes from a steak and cheese pie embedded in their thatched whiskers.

Christopher Oldstone-Moore talking about his book Of Beards and Men in Esquire said since the beginning of civilisation "the removal of hair is a kind of purification, the removal of the animal self ... trying to elevate your manhood and your personhood to a higher plane."

A bushy beard to me seems decadent, and selfish. I am not alone in my dislike, but it is what people whisper, fearful of repercussions from bearded brethren. A friend who wishes to be anonymous because of fearing online haters decries the shaggy look as "a hateful affectation of elegance and eccentricity, pursued by those who have none ... happy to ignore the impact on a woman's face or other while trying to look like Isambard Kingdom Brunel or some other misogynist tosser".

Why would men not want to shave? It must be a bit of a hassle every morning, but not as much as periods, shapewear or ghd'ing your hair.

Oldstone-Moore says shaving makes men look "younger, more vital, energetic".

Who doesn't want to be vital?

The current beard trend could also be continuing so long as it is a two-fingered rebellious reaction to the corporate world. But why would men go for a bushy look that makes them look bogan or a redneck? Clean-shaven men seem smarter, as Oldstone-Moore says in Esquire. "shaving seems to suggest that you are a refined and cultivated person who has transcended your natural animal aspect. So it ties it with sort of being a higher-level man in the sense of being civilised."

James Dean was a rebel. Grizzly Adams just needs Gillette.

The beard trend has made your point. It has had its day and it is over. Cut throat shaves are now making the blade. If you want to show us you are your own man, guys, shave it off.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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