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Have you been finding yourself among an ever-increasing group of bearded, tattooed and pierced men at the bar?
It's likely that the number of men sporting mustaches, septum rings and fresh ink is only going to grow more. There's an underlying reason why:
A new study explains that today's hirsute, tatted men may have an advantage in the dating world.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia analyzed 154 species of primates to see how they use physical "ornaments" and "badges" to stand out. The researchers found that male primates who live in larger, multilevel societies use flamboyant and conspicuous markers to signal "identity, rank, dominance or attractiveness."
The researchers claim that it holds for humans too, with beards and tattoos being the badges men use to compete for attention. The tougher the competition and the bigger the dating pool (and hookup and dating apps, as we know, have made it bigger than ever), the more ostentatious men have to get with their whiskers and piercings. These secondary sexual traits, or features that give us a sexual advantage, may amplify our mating (and dating) success.
"In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick, reliable tool to evaluate someone's strength and quality, and that's where these elaborate ornaments come in," the lead researcher said. "In the case of humans, this may also include extensions such as body decoration, jewelry and prestige items."
That explains the trends: Our inclination towards this kind of "ornamentation" seems to be growing, as with the recent rise of the "hipster beard." Nearly 1 in 4 millennials have a piercing in a place other than their earlobe.
Standing out has never been so popular, which may explain the recent men's fashion trends like colorful socks, funky pocket squares and men's jewelry.
Of course, the specific "badges" change as fashion trends change. The study authors also found that facial hair trends come in waves. "The popularity of mustaches and beards among British men from 1842 to 1971 rose when there were fewer potential mates in the dating pool and beards were judged to be more attractive," reported the Telegraph regarding the study.
Embracing your differences: Regardless of what's on-trend, individualizing yourself with clothing, jewelry, beards, tattoos, hairstyles and piercings can be a way to land date or attract a new sex partner, as those signifiers often say a lot about us as people. It's not just primates: Tattooed and pierced people get a lot of attention on online dating sites, for example, because they mark themselves as unique. In person, at Bacchus, it might just be because it's a entree into a conversation. :-)
So go on and book that tattoo appointment and abandon your razor. Science says it's working for you.
The hirsuit Aloha Bears are at Bacchus tomorrow (Sunday) for their pre- and post- Second Sunday Booze Cruise extravaganza. Post-cruise shenanigans will include a "PIN THE 'STACHE ON THE STUD" competition ($1 for the 'stache - to raise money for Movember).