Here we go again!
Owning a beard is not just having hair on your face. Beards are heritage-rich, impactful, life companions that played an important part in history and shaping of our culture.
If you’ve missed it, here is the first part of the beard fact series.
But enough yackety-yak, it’s time for the:
5 (More) Incredibly Interesting Facts About Beards
1. The C.I.A. tried to overthrow communism in Cuba by making Fidel Castro’s beard fall out
The Cuban Project, otherwise known as Operation Mongoose, was an illegal, covert operation by the C.I.A. during the first year of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. It consisted of 33 unconventional plans (as there are 33 known living species of mongooses) to subvert Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba.
One of them was making his beard fall out. This act would discredit him in the public’s eyes and hopefully help spark a revolt.
Quote from Wikipedia:
Plans to discredit Castro in the eyes of the Cuban public included contaminating his clothing with thallium salts that would make his trademark beard fall out and spraying a broadcasting studio with hallucinogens before a televised speech.
You may want to think twice before shaving your beard, apparently it can cause some serious social distress.
The other Operation Mongoose plans included placing explosive sea shells at his favourite diving spots, spraying hallucinogens in his broadcasting studio before televised speech, and botulinus toxin cigars.
2. Alexander The Great ordered all his men to shave off their beards
…as they could be potentially used as handles by the enemy in battle.
Although that could prove a disadvantage in melee battle, Alex didn’t consider the battle beard intimidation effect–which the Vikings used to great extension.
A battle beard accentuates your jaw and signals confidence you can beat the enemy even with a potential drawback.
3. The professional study of beards is called “pogonology”
Do you read a ton about beards? If so, that makes you a pogonologist. Be sure you put that in your résumé. Every major company needs a beard expert.
4. Peter “The Great” imposed a tax on beards
To be more in line with the contemporaneous Western Europe, Peter The Great pogonophobe and emperor of Russia imposed a tax on beards in 1698.
Every Russian beardsman to pay a beard fine of 100 rubles–every year. (Dick).
He found still greater difficulty in inducing the people to shave off their mustaches and their beards. Finding that they would not shave their faces under the influence of a simple regulation to that effect, he assessed a tax upon beards, requiring that every gentleman should pay a hundred rubles a year for the privilege of wearing one; and as for the peasants and common people, every one who wore a beard was stopped every time he entered a city or town, and required to pay a penny at the gate by way of tax or fine.
Abbott, Peter (1902). “Peter the Great”. Project Gutenberg online edition.
We should pay attention to any leader who call themselves “The Great”. Clearly there is some serious pogonophobia associated with that title.
5. Beards may be linked to baldness
Your beard may the culprit of your thinning hair on top. A study in 1988 speculated that some men start to lose the hair on their scalp for thermoregulatory reasons–due to the additional heat retention facial hair provides.
Women and children lose more heat through their lips, cheeks, chin and neck and less through their forehead. In contrast, men who can grow a beard (this includes clean-shaven men), lose 40% less heat through their face and secrete more sweat from their scalp.
Here is the quote from the study:
During light hyperthermia the evaporation rate on the bald scalp was 2 to 3 times higher than on the hairy scalp. Conversely the evaporation rate was practically equal on the foreheads and chins of women and unbearded young men, while in adult clean-shaven bearded men it was 40% less on the chin than the forehead. These results support the hypothesis that male baldness is a thermoregulatory compensation for the growth of a beard in adults.
This hypothesis also supports my belief that bald men are meant to have beards. (Or any kind of facial hair for that matter).