Why are beards taking America by storm?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

It’s silly beards like this that ruin a fashion trend. Even if rarity can be an evolutionary advantage, too much oddness can be the opposite.

If it seems like more men are sporting long beards instead of clean-shaven faces…. they are! But it’s not just a fashion style as some might believe. New research suggests it results from the urge for men to compete with other men and attract the ladies. However, if too many of them grow out their beards, the movement will reach its peak and die out.

Scientists have observed that women are more attracted to men who display rare features. For example, if there are a bunch of guys walking around with clean-shaven faces, the man with a thick burly beard suddenly becomes the showstopper. On the other hand, if more men are rocking long facial hair, women may start becoming more interested in the gentleman with a baby-smooth face. The pattern is known as an “advantage of rare traits,” and might explain why hairy faces have become more frequent over these last few years.

The researchers believe what caused the recent trend was the huge job crisis in 2008 – where unemployment rates were the highest they’ve been about 60 years. A man needed to demonstrate a competitive status, and what better way to secure his masculinity than by growing a lion-like mane about his face? Sure enough, professions which typically called for clean-shaven faces – bankers, film stars, and athletes – opted for beards instead.

Now, however, the trend may have reached its “peak beard” mark, where there are so many hairy faces, it’s no longer rare. It may be time for the gents to pull out their razors and shaving cream again. After all, not everyone can truly pull off the rugged mane!

Featured image courtesy of Loren Kerns on Flickr. Image of silly beard courtesy of Ayleen Gaspar on Flickr.