Tuesday December 15, 2015

Beards 101: From the dawn of civilization to lumbersexuals

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.

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)

Listen 20:19

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 Grace in the late 1880s

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.