The media is all agog with the news of Jeremy Paxman's beard. Some people say it is unprofessional and unkept. Some people say that it is untrustworthy. Others say it is sexy. Let's face it: nobody wants to smooch a mountain man, but there's something undeniably attractive about a five o'clock shadow or a bit of stubble.
At some point in life, a girl's opinion on beards changes. Before, they were unkempt, uncomfortable (especially during a snog session) and itchy. Afterwards, they become desirable. Is it subconsciously more attractive because beards denote a mature and confident man? Is it because they fulfil a desire for a life that isn't dictated by suits and deadlines? Is it because it makes your man more manly?
Whatever the reason: it's true - there is documented evidence to support the claim that most women like a little stubble in their love life. It makes us feel good to have a man with a bit of a beard ala George Clooney. It tickles in all the right places while he nuzzles your neck and sensitive spots. It's amazing during cunnilingus.
But there's more to it than that: a study showed that women are more attracted to men with neat facial hair than those with full beards or clean-shaven lines. A group of British women were shown a series of photographs and were asked to rate the men depicted according to a set of relationship goals and attractiveness.
According to the researchers, Dr Nick Neave and Kelly Shields, the findings suggested that "In desirability for a short-term relationship, a female preference for male faces with stubble or light beard was found, with clean-shaven and fully bearded faces being the least preferred. This indicates that females are not selecting faces displaying relatively high or low masculinity, but are rather preferring males who are clearly mature - post-pubertal - but not too masculinised. The same pattern was found for preferences for a long-term relationship."
The women in the survey rated men with stubble as tough, mature, aggressive, dominant and masculine, but not as masculine as men with full beards who were in danger of becoming over-dominating and aggressive. Men with stubble were also esteemed to be the best lovers and romantic partners.
So, whether you love it or hate it, Mrs Elizabeth Paxman probably has an opinion about her husband's new beard - and if she's anything like the rest of the female British population, it's likely here to stay.
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