Five Facial Fur Fun Facts
From facial fuzz to full-on fur, there are many different kinds of beards. They span through time, from prehistory to the present day. They appear in every culture, religion, and ethnicity. Whether or not you missed our first edition of fun facts about facial hair, now it is time for our second installment of Five (Further) Fun Facts Featuring Facial Fur.
1. Fidel’s Facial Fall Out
Shortly after Fidel Castro became Prime Minister of Cuba and John F. Kennedy became President of the U.S., the latter planned an operative to overthrow the Cuban leader. The Cuban Project became known as “Operation Mongoose” because its plans to bring down the Cuban leader numbered 33, the equivalent of the number of mongoose species. Part of those plans involved the secret placement of thallium salts inside Castro’s shoes. These salts are a very powerful depilatory meant to strip Castro of all his hair, including his trademark beard. His beard was a symbol of his wisdom, power, and virility; loss of his beard was intended to humiliate him and ruin his public image.
2. Pogonophobia: The Academia Of Beards
While many women display pogonophilia, an extreme love for bearded men, many men throughout history have exhibited pogonophobia, an extreme fear of or dislike for beards. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), for example, has been accused by two employees of having pogonophobic tendencies. Both Jeremy Paxman and Robin Lustig have voiced their beliefs that the BBC’s discrimination against bearded reporters is a sign of the company’s pogonophobia. Disney is another company that openly practiced pogonophobic business, forbidding their employees from sporting beards over the course of 60 years, all the way until 2012.
3. Abe Lincoln
The first U.S. president to wear a beard, Lincoln was not always part of the beard club. An 11-year old Grace Bedell changed the course of history when she wrote a letter to the peach-faced presidential candidate. In her note, she pointed out how Lincoln’s slim visage could use a little bit of extra size and suggested he grow out his beard. We will never know how much of a role Abe’s trademark beard influenced his popularity and image amongst the people. Yet, comparing photos of his face before and after he heeded the little lady’s advice, it is obvious that the beard gave Mr. Lincoln a stronger jaw, kinder image, and wiser look.
Did you know that there is one and the same cause for both beard growth and male pattern hair loss? The sex steroid and hormone Dihydrotestosterone is responsible for many male developmental stages. In men’s adult years, it affects the hair follicles, resulting in characteristics that set men apart from women. The hormone causes thick hair to grow from the face as well as hair to fall out along recognized male-patterns of baldness. Now it makes sense why so many macho bad boys on the big screen sport hair on their chins and none on their heads.
5. Longest Beard
So now that attractiveness of the beard has been well established thanks to many recent studies, you may be waiting for the last fun fact to answer your curiosity regarding the possible maximum length of a beard. While you can expect your facial hair to grow 5.5 inches annually, the longest beard recorded to date belonged to the late Hans Langseth. In 1927, this Norwegian was found to be carrying around an impressive 17.5-foot beard. You can find his legendary outgrowth at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Even today, there are men such as Shamsher Singh, an Indian man whose facial hair measured in at a whopping 6-foot length in 1997.
Beards are an intriguing subject, as mysterious as the faces they partially veil. If you search, you will discover many more surprisingly fun facts about these facial furs and fuzzes.