This is no secret, but it’s difficult to walk five feet in Richmond without brushing into a bearded man. You could walk into Lamplighter or New York Deli right this minute and fall ass-backward into beards if you were so inclined. The lumber-sexual look is in, and luckily for you ladies, a website has come along to connect you with the hirsute man of your dreams: the impeccably named Bristlr.
Bristlr, the social beard network, launched about two months ago promising to “connect those with beards to those who want to stroke beards.” It has thousands of members, both of the bearded and looking-for-bearded variety.
If you’re scratching your beard and wondering why this website is spelled so strangely, then you’re probably my grandma, but I’ll explain anyway: Surely you’ve heard of Tumblr (which has offices in Richmond), the micro-blogging platform and social networking website. And you’ve most likely heard of Tinder, the superpopular dating app that lets you swipe left or swipe right till you find someone you want to sleep with, err, I mean date. Then there’s Grindr, which is Tinder for gay men.
And if those options aren’t enough, you also have OkCupid, Match, Chemistry, J-Date, WhereBlackPeopleMeet, AdultFriendFinder, Toothless4Toothless, IronLungLiving, WhereWaterParkEnthusiastsMeet (which strangely enough, is actually just people who like to go to water parks), LongshoremenNLove, Dilfr, etc.
What I’m getting at is, there’s a lot of dating sites and they all sort of play off each other, especially when it comes to spelling and wording. Lonely people care not for grammar or reason — or even a full-set of teeth, as Toothless4Toothless illustrates.
But back to Bristlr.
As a man considered follicle-challenged, at least facially, I’m not part of the beard cult. I’ve wanted to be. I’ve tried. But my jaw ends up resembling the top of Jude Law’s head. I’ve accepted that I’ll never be able to grow a thick, full beard. It’s not like this fact has hindered me or anything. More of a minor annoyance, really.
My question is: Why do so many women love hairy faced men? Are men sporting face follicles a cyclical thing? Has a man’s beard always been a selling point? Am I missing the boat? Is there a facial hair boat?
I enlisted an expert to help me understand the infatuation with dudes who look like Civil War-era haberdashers: Chad Roberts, president and founder of the RVA Beard League. This is a man who recently took home a first place award in freestyle and was runner-up for best in show at the Beard and Mustache Championship of the Universe in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Let that sink in: the universe. Yeah, he knows facial hair.
Roberts also clearly has fine facial features — maybe even movie-star good looks underneath his almost two-foot long beard. “If you have the confidence to proudly wear facial hair with all the doubters and naysayers out there,” he says, “then you have a good sense of who you are, and confidence is sexy.”
What kinds of women prefer beardos? “Usually fun and outgoing women,” Roberts says. “It’s like your peanut butter preference: Some prefer crunchy and some like smooth. The key to attracting anyone, whether you’re (in)voluntarily clean-shaven or not, is to be yourself. No one wants an outlet mall version of someone else. Play to your strengths and go for it.”
So it appears that men like Roberts are normal, reasonable, manly men, who simply enjoy having beards. Compared to him, my clean-shaven brethren and I just seem like a bunch of sociopaths. And we are. Who other than a sociopath would voluntarily drag a razor across his face every day?
So clearly, Roberts didn’t help me. And can I really trust someone whose life is so inextricably connected with beards to offer up the truth? What does a woman think?
I turn to my morning show co-host on 103.7 Play, Melissa Chase, who’s a three-time judge of the RVA Beard League Championships. What is it about men with full, well-formed beards that get women so hot and bothered?
She pauses for a few seconds, drifting off to some unknown happy place inside her head, then she sort of shivers and smiles.
“I can’t even.”
And she really couldn’t even.
There you have it.
Ladies, Bristlr.com might be the place for you.
Or just go walk down Grace Street. Much to my dismay, they’re everywhere.
Need more beard? The Mid-Atlantic Beard & ’Stache Championships IV is April 25 at the Canal Club to benefit the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.