A man’s facial hair decoded

Friday November 6 2015

Loads of people shift careers, and are far happier for it. Photo/FILE

In honour of ‘movember’, we take a look at what messages the length and grooming of beards and ‘staches send to women. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOAN THATIAH
By JOAN THATIAH
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Have you ever stopped to think about the subconscious message you receive when you observe how a man grooms his facial hair? Probably not.

But think about this: In general, in the movies (and even in real life, if you think about Adolf Hitler), almost all villains and idiots have ridiculous handlebar moustaches and/or scraggly beards, while handsome heros tend to wear a little bit of stubble.

Religious men will wear a full mane below their lower lip, but evil bad guys tend to have a strip running down their chin. Yes, facial hair does say something on a psychological level.

Which is why we thought it interesting to actively poll women on what impressions different lengths of male facial hair left on them. This is all in honour of Movember, that time of the year when men the world over grow their facial hair in a bid to increase awareness of male health issues. Here is what they told us.

 

THE WOMEN

Faith Mumbua is a paralegal

Esther Muchunu is a human resources assistant

Eunice Waithera is a radio presenter

Winnie Kelly is an office administrator

 Clockwise: Eunice Waithera is a radio

Clockwise: Eunice Waithera is a radio presenter, Esther Muchunu is a human resources assistant, Faith Mumbua is a paralegal and Esther Muchunu is a human resources assistant. PHOTOS| CHARLES KAMAU

LOOK 1: THE FULL GROWN BEARD

Satmag: What is your first impression of this man?

Faith:  He looks untidy and a little scary. The beard is too much.

Esther: This is a man who doesn’t care about what the world thinks about him. He is also not too attentive to detail.

Waithera: It’s a creepy look. He is a confident but carefree man. He is daring and he only thinks of himself.

Winnie: He is scary.

 

Satmag: Would you date him?

Faith: No, not seriously.

Esther: I wouldn’t. He seems like he would be too much work.

Waithera: No. it would be too much for me. His beard looks like it would be competing with my hair.

Winnie: No, not at all. He isn’t presentable.

 

Satmag: What do you think he does for a living?

Faith: The beard looks like a statement of sorts so, showbiz.

Esther: He looks like a mechanic… or a gang leader.

Waithera: He looks like a thug. Or an overly religious man.

Winnie: He might be uneducated.

 

Satmag: Would you invest your money in his business?

Faith: No way. He doesn’t look like he can take care of my money.

Esther: Only if he had some of those established businesses.

Waithera: He looks shifty. I wouldn’t.

Winnie: No. he doesn’t inspire trust.

 

Satmag: In a relationship setting, would this man make you feel secure?

Faith: He looks like he could be carrying a gun.

Esther: He’s scary. He sure would be adequate physical protection but I am not sure he would make me feel emotionally secure.

Waithera: He looks like he would be overprotective. The kind that kill to protect their women.

Winnie: He scares me. Trusting him would be hard.

 

LOOK 2: THE SCRUFFY LOOK

Satmag: What is your first impression of this man?

Faith:  This is someone who is not too concerned with his looks. That’s how a man ought to be, right?

Esther: This man is down to earth. Like he would be down for whatever. He doesn’t look like he plans his life much.

Waithera: This is a clean, classy, sexy man. He is masculine but he still has that soft side of him.

Winnie: He looks very good.

 

Satmag: Would you date him?

Faith: A quick yes.

Esther: Not seriously. He looks like he still has some growing up to do.

Waithera: Yes.

Winnie: I would. He seems like an easygoing man.

 

Satmag: What do you think he does for a living?

Faith: He is probably a businessman.

Esther: He holds a blue collar job. If not, he probably works for an NGO.

Waithera: He could be the CEO of a company. He also could be a television personality.

Winnie: He is probably a businessman.

 

Satmag: Would you invest your money in his business?

Faith: I would consider it.

Esther: If it wasn’t a very serious field of business.

Waithera: He looks trustworthy.

Winnie: I think I would take some time to think it over first but probably I would.

 

Satmag: In a relationship setting, does this man make you feel secure?

Faith: Yes. He seems like a manly man.

Esther: If I were younger.

Waithera: He doesn’t look stingy. And the scruffy look also takes some attention to achieve so I believe he would take care of me.

Winnie: He is a masculine man. I would feel very secure with him.

 

 

LOOK 3: THE GOATEE

Satmag: What is your first impression of this man?

Faith: He is boyish. This is a man who is still looking for himself.

Esther: He is cute. He took his time to plan this look. He’s also daring.

Waithera: He is a fashionable, fun-loving kind of man.

Winnie: This is a playful, naughty man.

 

Satmag: Would you date him?

Faith: Maybe casually.

Esther: I would. He cares enough about himself. Not too much, but enough.

Waithera: Yes. The goatee is not classy but it looks good.

Winnie: He looks a bit immature to date seriously.

 

Satmag: How do you think he makes his money?

Faith: Does he make his own money?

Esther: He is in IT.

Waithera: He is an artist, probably a musician.

Winnie: He is probably in showbiz.

 

Satmag: Would you invest your money in his business?

Faith: No. he doesn’t seem like a serious person.

Esther: I would.

Waithera: He looks like the kind of man that would spend your money on other women.

Winnie: No. Not my money.

 

Satmag: In a relationship setting, would you feel secure with him?

Faith: No.

Esther: I would be a little jealous but yes, I would be secure.

Waithera: Maybe. I am not sure.

Winnnie: Not really.

 

LOOK 4: THE CLEAN-SHAVEN MAN

 

Satmag: What is your first impression of this man?

Faith: He is very neat. Too neat.

Esther: He is too serious. He also comes off as overly-competitive.

Waithera: This man is not confident enough to own his beard. He will go out of his way to please others. He is soft.

Winnie: He is neat, well put together and very attractive.

 

Satmag: Would you date him?

Faith: I would. He comes off as mature.

Esther: (After some thought) No. He is too boring. Too clean-shaven to enjoy life.

Waithera: I wouldn’t. A man should be comfortable with his masculinity, not try to hide it.

Winnie: Yes.

 

Satmag: How do you think he makes his money?

Faith: He is definitely has a white-collar job. He is probably a lawyer.

Esther: He is an accountant.

Waithera: He is an accountant or a bank teller.

Winnie: He is in a serious career.

 

Satmag: Would you invest your money in his business?

Faith: If he can take that good care of his face, he definitely can take care of my money.

Esther: He seems straightforward. I would give him my money.

Waithera: He seems serious. I would.

Winnie: His appearance is convincing.

 

Satmag: In a relationship setting, do you think he would make you feel secure?

Faith: Yes. He seems like one of the good guys.

Esther: Yes. He appears like the predictable type. You would know what to expect with him.

Waithera: No. A man shouldn’t shave all of his hair.

Winnie: Yes. He seems stable. He takes care of himself so he will take care of me too.

 

VERDICT

It is clear that a man’s beard is a measure of his masculinity. While different ladies appear to have varying preferences, there are is a middle ground. Each type of beard makes a man invoke either respect or fear. Not both.

  

WHAT IS MOVEMBER?

Movember is an Australian English word coined from the combination of ‘moustache’ and ‘November’. It is also the name of an Australian-based foundation founded in 2003. In the month of November, all men are encouraged to grow moustaches so as to draw awareness of men’s health issues mainly prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health.

The moustache growing is mainly for awareness. By men changing their appearance, the foundation hopes that this will stir conversation on issues surrounding male health.

The idea is that men donate what they would have spent on shaving their moustaches to raise money for cancer research. Women can participate by pushing the men in their lives to grow their moustaches.

The foundation has campaigns in 21 countries all around the world.

 

WHAT DOES A BEARD MEAN TO A MAN?

“My beard has a lot to do with what I am feeling about myself at that time,” says Harry Kibet, a marketing executive. When he is feeling pushed to a corner, he will let his beard grow a little longer than usual. On the easier days when all is expected of him is a smart look, he will go for the clean-shaven look.

To Albert, a 32-year-old computer programmer, a man’s beard is a means of communication.

“Men who have nothing interesting to say for themselves are the ones you will find with the odd or conspicuous beard choices,” he observes.

A scientific study from the University of Western Australia published in the Journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour agrees that a beard is much more than a fashion statement for a man. According to the study findings, a beard is a quick tool to speak about a man’s strength and quality. The researchers found that men wear more conspicuous beards in societies where they are more pressured. A man’s beard is his way of pushing back when his masculinity is at a threat.

 

THE MAN BEARD THROUGH THE YEARS

Facial hair styles have changed over the years. In the past decades, it appears as if the changes were inspired by what was happening around the lives of men. In the early 1900s, men, especially the older ones, grew their beards perhaps as an assertion of their masculinity and also a sign of maturity.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the goatee became trendy even with the younger men. The love for the goatee during these ages has been attributed to the popularity of Jazz music. In the 1970s the full beard which came along with the afro made a comeback. Men during this ages, it is evident, paid close attention to their hair. It was a status statement of sorts. In the 21st century, side burns began losing their popularity. This popularity has been waning ever since.

Facial hair however still remains and it seems to have got a life of its own. Unlike previous generations, a man’s choice of facial hair appears to be a direct result of what is happening within him. We have young men sporting bigger beards with an interesting enthusiasm.

The full beard and the scruffy look appears to be a symbol of rebellion. The corporates on the other hand are going for the clean-shaven look. It is supposed to make a man look younger and more energetic both of which are admirable qualities in the corporate world.

 

 

 

 

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