B is for Beard-Love

We’re in Day Three of FanstRAvaganza 3 in the freeform tagteam chain! If you missed day Two, check out the posts at Melanie’s MusingsAn Obsessed Fanatic and Do I Have a Blog?. Also in Day Three, see my partners’ posts at FunkyBlueDandelion and I Want to Be a Pin-Up.

For the second instalment of the Armitage Alphabet we’re talking beards. A gorgeous 6”2’ man playing a valiant dwarf king undoubtably requires a good deal of make-up and prosthetics, or at least a credible beard. So, when Richard appeared at the Hobbit press conference in February 2011, he’d already started what he termed ‘a little facial hair experiment’ to try to limit the amount of artificial fuzz required to reprise the role of Thorin Oakenshield.

I must admit that I was in two minds about this new look. I’m not usually a fan of beards so when a new picture emerged some weeks later showing a wonderfully clean-shaven Richard at the Christchurch earthquake fundraising event, I secretly hoped he’d given up on the idea. I was wrong, of course, and a bearded Mr Armitage walked the red carpet at the Captain America premiere in New York. The gorgeous Recognise Magazine and Project Magazine photos that followed, not surprisingly, had fans all over the world declaring their beard-love.

So, what is it about beards that attracts women? Charles Darwin reckons it’s the actual process of sexual selection that may have led to beards and modern science seems to back this up. Modern biologists conclude there is evidence to show that a significant enough majority of women in the past have found bearded mates more attractive than smooth-skinned competitors. In other words, it was a simple game of numbers. Evolutional psychology thinks the beard developed to indicate sexual maturity and signal dominance, by making the jaw look bigger than in really was. Hmmm… I can sort of see what they mean!

Beards, of course, are imbued with meaning. On the up-side there’s wisdom, sexual virility, honour, masculinity and higher status. On the down-side, there’s lack of general cleanliness and loss of refinement. Dreaming of bearded men, apparently, is a good omen and good luck will follow! Yeah, I can definitely see that!

The bible is positively brimming with beards; Moses, Abraham, St Peter and Jesus all had beards. But although in some religions, such as Islam, beards are obligatory others prohibit the growth of facial hair.

History is full of beards too. From the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt to the princes of present day, beards have graced the faces of many a famous figure.

Beards have come in and out of fashion though. With a smooth face being regarded as a sign of effeminacy, beards were the done thing until Alexander the Great decided against them on grounds of health and safety and introduced the custom of smooth shaving. Alexander feared that beards could serve as handles for enemies to grab and hold a soldier as he was killed and thus ordered his troops to be clean-shaven. Maybe Thorin should take note!

However, philosophers retained their beard as a badge of their profession and all throughout history beards were grown in protest too. Men grew enormous beards during Queen Mary’s reign, for instance, which was a time of reaction against Protestant reform. However, the popularity of the beard declined in Western society and during the early eighteenth century most men of standing were clean-shaven… with perhaps a nice set of sideburns?

By the early twentieth century the beards fell out of fashion altogether and gave way to the moustache…

Or the goatee…

The American film industry with its clean-shaven, close cropped-haired heroes and the consequent mass marketing of the Gillette Safety Razors did for the beard until it was reintroduced to mainstream society by the counter-culture of the 1960s and ‘70s. The fashion for beards since the turn of this century was limited to the ‘two-day shadow’, no doubt inspired by Miami Vice (and, yes, I am old enough to remember being glued to the family TV set to watch that!).

I love designer stubble. Did I tell you Lucas North is my favourite RA character?

Designer stubble vs beard? Mmm, let’s see….

So, in the interest of scientific research, I thought I’d add a little poll to see what the favourite Richard Armitage facial hair style is.

No prizes for the winner, I’m afraid, but to feel virtuous knowing you have contributed to the gathering of some very important consumer data which may help avoid Richard to pick a facial hairstyle like this…

Heinz Christophel, Winner of the World Beard and Moustache Championship 

I’m afraid my inner jury is still out on this beard-thing. Although I’ll admit it gives Richard a certain gravitas, I think it obscures his good looks too much. I really miss seeing that delightful little smile of his  play around those gorgeous, cupid-bow lips and much prefer having a unobscured view of that wonderful strong jaw line. But, for those of you who are totally into Richard’s new look, I’ll leave you with my favourite beard-shot from the July 2011 Project Magazine photoshoot.

For more freeform contributions to FanstRA 3, see my partners’ posts at  FunkyBlueDandelion and I Want to Be a Pin-Up. Yesterday’s posts are at Melanie’s MusingsAn Obsessed Fanatic and Do I Have a Blog?. Tomorrow, the freeform tagteam continues at Something About Love (A), Me, My Thoughts and Richard Armitage and Do I Have a Blog?. All FanstRAvaganza 3 links can be found here.

[RA screencaps courtesy of RichardArmitageNet; Heinz Christophel photo courtesy of the official World Beard and Moustache Championship website]


47 thoughts on “B is for Beard-Love

    • I’d also like to add that this guy has incredibly smug swgegar. I like how he comes out on the stage with his cup and acts as if he doesn’t know how he’s going to drink it, and suddenly remembers the trap door he put in last night. Totally worth spending the night sleeping upright in a chair.

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  2. I’m in, hook, line and sinker for the bearded beauty of RA. This is an excellent post – great choice of photos. Cheers, and have a great week!

  3. I’m not a fan of the Grizzly Adams one he wore at the LA Captain America premiere but it seemed much more groomed at the NY one. I like Monet’s soul patch but then I’m a sucker for soul patches generally. I do love the Project mag one.

    • Yes, the beard was a little bit scruffy still at that premiere, wasn’t it? The Project & Recognise Magazine photos look so much better! I’m not much into facial hair myself and I’m not sure if it’s the hairstyle or that little goatee/soulpatch covering but he does look quite cute as Monet. The moustache, however, makes him look downright creepy! But then I think that was the idea with that character (haven’t watched that particular programme yet).

  4. Nice post! I always wondered what, though, exactly the reason would be that a beard would give particular men a reproductive advantage. I understand the general principle but the specific causation has always remained obscure to me. There’s also the issue of technology for effective and comfortable shaving, which makes certain kinds of beard or shaved looks easier to achieve.

    Love the beard. Long may it curl.

    • Thanks S. I’m not particularly sure about that myself but think it may just be to do with the fact that beards make the jaw/face look bigger? I think men are secretly pleased that designer stubble is still so popular – one shave every two or three days, yay! Not so good from a lover’s perspective though, if you have sensitive skin :-/

  5. Hi CB,
    I know that I voted for designer stubble–I go in for the exfoliating benefits of kissing a man with it–but goodness those Recognise Magazine pix, like the first one you post, make me tremble. The Project Magazine portraits are heavenly, too. *Swoon* *Thud*
    Cheers! Grati lying on the floor looking up–at RA (I’m delusional, obviously. Ha!) ;->

    • LOL & hurrah for designer stubble! I’m with you on that one Grati but also agree that those pProject and Recognise Magazine pictures are fantastic. I’m hoping that as RA becomes more famous, the photo-shoots are going to be more and more professional & glamourous. Bring it on!

      • well I’m gald i read the comment on this post, cus i quite like my beard, but keep thinikng maybe i should get rid of it, cus ive never heard any girls say theyy thought it was kul…… but now I’m definitely keeping it, cus it would seem there are a bunch of them out there (somewhere) 🙂

    • Ah, I could have put money on that bccmee! I know you’re a dedicated beard convert. Does anybody else think it makes him look older though? Or perhaps it’s just that his beardless face has quite a youthful & mischievous look to it (which I really, really, really like!) 🙂

  6. The bearded Magazine photoshoot ones have an amazing effect on me – especially the top one with the blue suit and white shirt – but the others do a number on me too so of COURSE I had to vote for that! 😉 Is it okay to say that my second choice would have to be the “designer stubble” a la Luscious Lucas?? 😀

    • I agree, they are fantastic photos! Brings to mind the old ZZ-Top song ‘Sharp Dressed Man’… ‘They come running’ just as fast as they can; ‘cos every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man’ – How true!

      And you score points of course for naming the lovely Lucas North’s designer stubble as your favourite number two 🙂

  7. Interesting post,Christianne, but i have to say that i still prefer RA without beard , so I voted to the second option.RA as Sir Guy is so attractive with that stubble and with the bigger hair.

    • oh dear. beards make me melt. i think a coomanipn poll should be “did your father (father figure, etc.) have a beard when you were growing up?” mine did and i am sure that is why i like them.i am going to show all of these answers to my mate. i hope he starts to believe me about beards being a good thing. fingers crossed.

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  9. Although I believe that RA has a bone structure that allows him to look good with any style, I must say that I really love how he looks with beard. He exudes masculine power and intrigue. So, yeah, I vote for beard,… a well groomed beard (I offer myself as a volunteer for the job …)

  10. I’m not sure if scientists are right about a beard indicating sexual maturity and a signal dominance. If that were true John Porter would look like ZZ Top 🙂
    Gone for the stubble myself a la Lucas! It’s those “first thing out of bed” scenes that do it for me!
    Great post Miss ChrisB!

    • ROFL! JP as an extra member of ZZ-TOP! Can I please, please, please borrow that idea for a bit of photoshop fun? And so true too. The man oozes masculinity and dominance & it aint just because of the guns! Oh and ‘fresh-out-of-bed’ Lucas would surely get my vote. Right after ‘found-in-my-bed’ Lucas – which is never going to happen *sigh*

  11. Great post! I think the beard obscures his lovely smile too much. I much prefer clean shaven RA 🙂

    • Yeah – that’s my problem with the beard too J. If you have such excellent features, why cover them up??? If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

  12. Wow, I found this history of beards to be really fascinating. The visual aids really helped too. 😉 I voted for designer stubble, but I LOVE the nicely trimmed beard of the Recognise and Project shoots; the CA premiere beard was a bit to scraggly for my liking.

    • Yeah – beards always need a little time to become respectable and it wasn’t quite there yet at the CA premiere. He also looked a little hot & flustered to me but that may just have been the harsh daylight conditions it was filmed in. Never very flattering.

  13. I vote for:
    designer stubble for looks
    clean shaven for comfort – my comfort
    No one mentioned the food collection problem with beards. Do you have to sweep them off after meals like a table cloth?

    Fun post..

    • Tee hee! I’m with you on the comfort issue there phoebe. I’ve had a short fling with a guy once in my young & inexperienced days and his stubble did some serious damage to my chin! Painful AND embarrassing!
      And as for food & beards… brrrr… best not to go there I think.

    • I agree Ana. He wears a beard really well & is one of the few people I think still looks cool with beard, but then that guy gets away with most (facial) hairstyles. Apart from that moustache though – that really is evil!

  14. Nice post about THE beard 🙂 As for myself, I love the designer stubble as you’ve called it , but I’ve chosen the beard for a practical reason : his stubble would irritate my face too much when I’d kiss him ;).

    • I think designer stubble is definitely in the lead (yay!) but you’re probably right that it would cause some chafing when things get amourous. Perhaps we could make him shave before starting the serious stuff 🙂

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  17. Love your picture choices! I was never a fan of stubble or beards before Mr. Armitage came along. I can’t wait to see what “C” is for! 22 more posts to go!

  18. Pingback: Armitage beard aesthetics « Me + Richard Armitage

  19. J.R.R. Tolkien probably never imagined that Thorin Oakenshield would look that good. As for Richard’s beard, for me it is either clean shaven or stubble. Full beard is kind of okay and sideburns make me think of Elvis.

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