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Mustaches, muttonchops and a host of other options, as of late, have elevated facial hair to a form of high art. However, for the dating Millennial, a crush might not feel similarly about your upper lip’s latest masterpiece.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a full market of potential for the niche of facial hair loving ladies (and gents).
“Years ago, I had a boyfriend who loved his beard,” blogged Dr. Helen Fisher, a chief scientific adviser at Chemistry.com. “He looked fashionable, I suppose; but I looked like a pumpkin. My raw face tingled in the shower … Even worse, his beard was a walking menu; it retained the smells of former meals.”
But underneath that matte of occasionally “smelly, itchy hair,” Fisher could not deny the brawny, unapologetic sexuality of her boyfriend’s beard. “Like the lion’s mane: facial hair signals testosterone, lots of it, along with youth, virility, assertiveness and readiness.”
Fisher, a biological anthropologist, explained it’s perfectly natural for men to fixate upon their jawlines; built by their own testosterone. “Indeed, ovulating women regard a man’s rugged jawline as particularly attractive; while they are more likely to choose a ‘baby faced’ man at other times of the menstrual cycle.”
However, there are those who aren’t buying it. Pogonophobes harbor an intense fear of beards, and other forms of facial hair, as defined by the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Conversely, pogonophiles share an undying love for these fuzzy faces, but not without a fight.
Last year, authors Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle brought their book, Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex, into the mainstream of American culture; spawning a spin-off VH1 miniseries, and opening up a wider debate about the very definition of “manliness” itself. In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, Coyle characterized the book as a wake-up call “for the guy who wonders, ‘Why hasn’t she called me back?’” Both ladies then rattled off a couple of their deal-breakers, but not before getting in a dig at No. 17 upon their list, “Bad Facial Hair.”
Coyle, speaking of “one particular date” that became the inspiration for Undateable, recounted that, “He was a nice guy, but he had a soul patch. I thought, ‘Maybe I can get over it; maybe I’m being superficial.’ But in the end I couldn’t do it.”
“I loved what Anne told the friend who had set her up,” Rakieten then added. “Sure, he could just shave, but he couldn’t shave that part of his brain that thought it was okay to grow a soul patch in the first place.’”
In the face of adversity, these men turned to the Internet for support; putting their time and energy into the creation of niche dating sites, such as Beardiful.com and StachePassions.com for them and their pogonophilic fans. But at first blush, it appears the invitation hasn’t been received. Both mentioned sites don’t have 30 “Likes” between them on Facebook, with Beardiful updating its page as recently as last November. Stache Passions boasts zero posts. It also seems that neither website has formally established their presence upon Twitter. However, in Beardiful’s defense, they’re still in their beta stage.
Twitter, though, did offer up the remains of another, unsuccessful venture @BeardedMate. Despite their quirky references to the “10 Best Video Game Beards of All Time,” and free registration, BeardedMate.com folded barely seven months after their initial launch.
But fight as they may for their very survival, others have thrived.
Growlr and Scruff, two apps available for download from the App Store, and the Android Market, exclusively cater to the discerning gentleman who seeks the company of other hirsute fellas. On Facebook, Scruff openly brags about its status as “one of the largest multi-platform social gay apps in the world,” with more than a million guys “SCRUFFing” in 180 countries on six continents, “and we’re pretty optimistic about Antarctica.” Growlr attempts to distinguish itself from Scruff as the “complete social networking app for gay bears,” with “[c]omplete and up-to-date bear run and bear bar listings.”
In the opinion of Max Holloway, the head of online marketing at Miravue Skin Clinic, these struggling sites, “[S]hould associate themselves with other causes,” such as the Movember movement, bringing attention to men’s health issues.
“If you respond defensively, it’s game over,” Holloway said of criticisms about his “creepy” mustache by women, strangers and purportedly strange women. “I respond to this the way I respond to most negative feedback: ‘Oh, yeah,’ delivered in a neutral to agreeing tone, then I change the subject. If you don’t think it’s a big deal they won’t think it’s a big deal.”
Now that’s badass.
Even Heineken has tapped into the power of facial hair