The Current

Beards 101: From the dawn of civilization to lumbersexuals

From Plato to Freud... to that tattooed guy in the toque who insists pour-overs are the only way to make a decent cup of coffee. Historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore says beards speak volumes about the wearer, and the society in which they live.
Why do men have beards? While the scientific answer is unclear, historian Christopher Oldstone-Moore says the consensus is it serves as an ornament to impress mates or as a threat to rivals. (Peter McConnochie, Flickr cc)

Facial hair can spark strong emotions, and according to Christopher Oldstone-Moore, it always has.

Christopher Oldstone-Moore is a senior lecturer at Wright State University. His new book is "Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair." He joined Anna Maria from Dayton, Ohio.

William Gilbert "W. G." Grace in this 1880 photo was an English amateur cricketer who played a pivotal role in the development of the sport. 'He was the quintessence of British sporting manhood', according to 'Of Beards and Men' author Christopher Oldstone-Moore. (Herbert Rose Barraud)

Fast Facts in 'Of Beards and Men' 

- Charles Darwin's theory on facial hair was that it was an ornament to impress mates.

- Alexander the Great was a game changer on beards. He asked his officers and soldiers to shave to show they were superior to their enemies.

- Women's advancement in the late 19th century around work and voting created a gender fluidity that left men feeling challenged to answer what it means to be a man. So beards became an experiment to project a more manly self.

- According to Christopher Oldstone-Moore in the book, John Lennon's beard was a statement as a counter culture icon. He saw himself as a modern prophet declaring "Hair Peace.". 

- You will not read about Santa in this book. The author prefers real people.

Does the beard make the man? Tell us what you think. Or better still, send us a picture of your beard.

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC and use #cbcbeards. Or send us an email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.