SATURDAY APRIL 29, 2017
 
Blog FEATURE
A BENT FOR BEARDS
TOROMovember.jpg

With Movember making Ron Swanson style ‘staches all the rage and Amish
beard-cutting gangs causing whisker trimming mayhem in Ohio, it seemed 
an appropriate time for a chat with Toronto psychiatrist and noted Pogonologist, Dr. Allan Peterkin.  

Peterkin is the author of the facial hair treatise 1000 Beards and he co-authored The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face  along with grooming guru Nick Burns.



Do you think a bearded man could be elected president of the United
 States or PM of Canada in the next 25 years or are beards simply too 
polarizing?


The last U.S. president to have facial hair was Taft [Ed note: last 
bearded Canadian P.M was Mackenzie Bowell, last to have a moustache, 
Louis St. Laurent]. There are two professions where you still can’t 
have a beard: banking and politics. Nowadays even though beards a re
popular, there’s a one-in-two chance that people are going to read
 something negative into a beard. They’re going to think of the
 terrorist beard, the hippie beard, the bum beard etc. Either you are
 Santa or you're Satan. You can’t know how your facial hair is going to 
be read. Most politicians won’t take the chance of having their 
beard misread as something dodgy. So, maybe in 25 years but not imminently. When politicians grow facial hair it’s a story and it’s just not seen as trustworthy in some professions.



San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson’s jet-black beard regularly 
instills fear in batters he faces in the bottom of the ninth, why are
 beards often seen as intimidating in pro sports?

Apes have something called jaw jut, when they’re about to fight they
 stick their jaws out so that the jaw looks more prominent, stronger 
and ferocious. The male beard does a similar thing, it appears to 
make the jaw larger and makes the guy look more macho and threatening. 
We know that the size of the jaw is a response to testosterone when a 
man is growing. So there is an association that having a big jaw
 means you are a big jock and a strong guy. And there are actually 
studies done when people are asked to rate the same face of a man with
and without a beard and invariably they describe the bearded face as 
stronger more virile, more masculine.



This past World Series, I noticed more baseball playoff beards than 
usual. The trend hockey started seems to be spreading across the sporting 
world. Why do you think that trend is catching?

The playoff beard has really caught in hockey first as you said and in
 basketball and football and now baseball too. It’s an expression of 
solidarity amongst men. I’m with my team and I’m going to grow a
 beard in support of them. I also think of Samson & Delilah, I’m not
 going to shave because I don’t want to lose my mojo. So there’s a 
historic association of we are warriors/centurions and we are going to
 have our beards.



What other beard trends are brewing?

There’s the strike beard. Remember when the Hollywood writers went on
 strike because of pay and equity issues. A lot of guys grew beards in
 solidarity with them, including Conan O’Brien. And then there’s the
 layoff beard, the break-up beard, and the other big thing is young guys
 with mountain man beards. Youngish guys in their mid-20s are growing 
these big beards, cathedral beards and so forth. They’re pushing the 
envelope. It's something that hasn’t yet been done in this latest wave 
of fur. You’re also seeing moustaches coming back.

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