Gawker Story Bashing Stubble Flies In The Face Of Actual Data


Gawker decided to troll the Internet with a story bashing guys who maintain short facial hair (aka stubble). The diatribe is a 100% subjective, if not impassioned plea for men everywhere to not maintain stubble.

I’ll quote just a quick bit from the article that gets at the heart of his argument. And by argument – isn’t actually an argument, it’s some random guy’s opinion (emphasis mine):

Men’s facial hair can take three basic forms. You can be clean shaven. That’s fine. You can have stubble, meaning you haven’t shaven for a little while and a little bit of visible hair is growing in. That’s fine. Or you can have well-defined facial hair—beard, mustache, etc. That’s fine

All of these are fine. By “fine,” I mean that they are not in and of themselves indicative of moral character. Yes, Stalin had a mustache—but so do some nice guys, too. You never know.

There is, however, one form of facial hair that is indicative of an underlying character flaw. That look is permanent stubble. As you can deduce, stubble is naturally a temporary state. It is the state between shaving, and having a beard. If someone has permanent stubble, that means that they are taking steps to groom and cultivate their stubble, keeping it permanently at a short length, so that it never makes the transition to beard, nor to a straightforward clean-shaven face. They are working for that stubble.

As someone who personally does maintain short facial hair for no other reason than my skin reacts poorly to being subjected to a wet razor, and I look awful with a full beard, I had to laugh at this. It’s weird one person is so irrationally upset at something that has no bearing on anything in his life. Also the author thinks it is “work” to maintain this look. It’s actually the easiest way to go about maintaining your facial hair with an electronic trimmer. It takes me under 2 minutes a day.

It’s also, as it turns out, the optimal way you can appear to attract a mate. Research shares that from an attractiveness and evolutionary perspective heavy stubble is preferred. The abstract of the research says it all (emphasis mine).

Facial hair strongly influences people’s judgments of men’s socio-sexual attributes. However, the nature of these judgments is often contradictory. The levels of intermediate facial hair growth presented to raters and the stage of female raters’ menstrual cycles might have influenced past findings. We quantified men’s and women’s judgments of attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities for photographs of men who were clean-shaven, lightly or heavily stubbled and fully bearded. We also tested the effect of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptive use on women’s ratings. Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. In contrast, men rated full beards and heavy stubble as most attractive, followed closely by clean-shaven and light stubble as least attractive. Men and women rated full beards highest for parenting ability and healthiness. Masculinity ratings increased linearly as facial hair increased, and this effect was more pronounced in women in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, although attractiveness ratings did not differ according to fertility. Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring.

For some reason the Gawker author feels stubble is ‘untrustworthy’ but by his logic any grooming or specific presentation of yourself would also be subversive. Of course this is absurd. And the actual data says potential partners naturally prefer this look.

You can read some additional details of the actual research and data on stubble in this story if you want methodology or numbers. But if you’re a guy, go ahead and thank Gawker for helping make your competition who actually listen to this author less attractive. And keep rocking that stubble.

And for your moment of zen, here’s the obligatory TL;DR reaction to the Gawker article:

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