According to the US psychologist Robert Pellegrini, "the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things". He claims that "inside every clean-shaven man there is a beard screaming to be let out". It could have been written this week but was actually part of his study of beard trends of Beards are having a moment. Quite a long moment, as it turns out.
Even since summerwhen the idea of peak beard was first put forward, this current beard trend has endured.
Depending on your point of view, the history of beards could in fact be seen as a succession of moments. What is happening today is merely the latest in a long line of men's rocky relationships with facial hair.
Sometimes beards are in, sometimes moustaches, less often sideburns and whiskers, and sometimes nothing at all. Famous historical men with beards dating difference is that, in the past, the trends lasted for decades, not months. So what is it about the beard that has proved both so enduring and so divisive? Beards have long been linked to the ways that men feel about themselves at any given point in time.
Whilst we all like to think of ourselves as individuals, wearing a beard — or indeed not — is generally influenced by a number of factors, and involves conscious decisions.
The beard, for example, was once portrayed as an outward symbol of inner male characteristics. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, beliefs in the four bodily humours meant that beards were regarded as a form of bodily waste.
To have a thick beard suggested that lots was going on down there and, therefore, the beard was considered a reliable marker of virility and sexual potency.
The eighteenth century, by contrast, was almost entirely clean-shaven. After decades, centuries perhaps, of beardedness, the new model man was smooth-cheeked and sensuous.