In high school intelligence and excelling in school work came second to how you performed on the sports field. In life, the opposite is the case (unless you are a professional athlete). One thing that remains, however, is the desire to be respected, appear older and to be treated equally. This is a primary reason that many men grow beards (although it's not the case for everybody).
A beard, especially one that is large and impressive, evokes a lot of emotion in different people. It can be scary when styled into a goatee and coupled with a shaved head. It can represent wisdom. A well-manicured beard can represent sophistication. Regardless of style, having a beard is your way of telling the world that you're a man who should be respected.
So why does appearing older, stronger, masculine or generally “better” matter? Well from an evolutionary standpoint these factors can all be attributed to finding a mate. Generally, but not always, women are more attracted to older men. There is a certain sense of security in knowing that the person you are with is older and therefore can be a better provider. Generally speaking, women tend to be more mature than their male counterparts in younger ages, so perhaps dating older is a way of balancing these levels out.
Similarly, keeping in line with this evolutionary standpoint, someone who exhibits traits that are different or 'better' can be contributing indicators of levels of attractiveness. Personally, I find beauty in difference. Meaning the people I’m attracted to exhibit physical and emotional qualities which might not be considered conventionally beautiful, but are beautiful to me.
Perhaps growing a beard signals one's worth by differentiating him from the rest of the pack. Everyone can go to the gym and has the potential to get shredded. You can learn to dress in a cool and desirable fashion that women will respond positively to. You can even take classes on how to be smoother to pick up the ladies.
However, genetically speaking a man can either grow an impressive beard or he can't. So for those who can it is a sign of strength, masculinity and a point of difference that can be used to attract a partner. For those that can't grow the epic beard they want, we suggest giving what you do have it's own distinctive style, including a gorgeous scent that is identifiable to you (this can easily be achieved with a quality beard oil).
Maybe for some a beard is just a change of face. The transition from a baby-faced youth to a hairy man. Maybe you have always been clean shaven even with the potential to grow a beard, and growing a beard is akin to getting a new haircut or changing your style. It is a mark of change and difference in your betterment as a person and in furthering yourself as a man.
The reasons for growing a beard vary from person to person. They can be grown to hide acne scarring, define a jaw line, as a fashion statement, a hatred of shaving or simply because you prefer how you look with a beard. But at the root of it all, those who chose to grow a beard it is a mark of adulthood, what makes you different and an invaluable component of what it means to be a man.
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