Here’s Why We Don’t Have Bearded Presidents Anymore

Here’s Why We Don’t Have Bearded Presidents Anymore

It’s the third Monday of February, and that means it’s Presidents’ Day, which got us thinking here at Naked Armor about an American president’s shaving habits. After all, it has been a century since we have had bearded presidents.

Given how clean-shaven our presidents have been during the last 100 years, it’s a no-brainer to think that they get regular shaves. But who shaves them? Short of letting the Secret Service do it, does the president shave his own beard?

To give us a quick answer, we asked our brilliant friend Google to search for the facts, and in the process, we’ve uncovered a lot of shaving-related trivia about the presidency.

Beards Aren’t Presidential

William Howard TaftWilliam Howard Taft was the last President of the United States to have a beard.

Wikipedia has a list of American presidents with facial hair. But of course, we had to confirm it ourselves. As it turns out, according to Quartz, the majority of men who have held the office of the President of the United States have been clean-shaven, even our Founding Fathers.

However, it has not always been like this. From the Civil War Period to the Progressive Period, beards were at their heyday, being a fashionable look for presidents. All presidents, except Andrew Johnson and William McKinley, wore a beard or a mustache during their tenure, and they were all in vogue.

The last president to have worn some facial hair was William Howard Taft, who, for some time, sported a beard and a goatee before settling on a mustache. After that, the White House has seen a major presidential beard drought.

Why Presidents Don’t Have Beards

No Bearded PresidentsPoliticians without beards are considered as less aggressive leaders.
Photos from: White House

Rebekka Herrick, an Oklahoma University Sociologist, and her colleagues, probed into the idea of whether beards affect a politician’s chances of winning a seat in the government. For the research, they presented photos of male members of the 110th Congress of 2007 and 2008 to some students to ask if they were likely to vote for the men in the pictures.

Here’s what they noticed:

  • Beard Stereotypes

    Stereotypes surrounding beards never really go away entirely. They come and go, depending on trend dynamics. However, for politicians, beards are like a double-edged blade—they can be both beneficial and harmful to one’s image.

    On the upside, people perceive men with beards as competent, composed, bold, and powerful, which are essential qualities when running for a leadership position. The downside is beards convey an aggressive and close-minded character.

    People may think that men with facial hair would be more supportive of gun rights, military spending, and force deployment. These issues are generally not welcome among the liberal-minded crowd. Hence, that is why we won’t be seeing any presidential candidates sporting facial hair anytime soon.

  • Women’s Suffrage and Beards

    Interestingly, the same research pointed out that politicians with facial hair fell out of favor with the American public when women gained voting rights and the double-edged safety razor became popular.

    It could be due to women thinking of men with facial beards as sexist and less friendly to their issues and concerns. So they wouldn’t vote for any candidate wearing a beard as it can implicate heightened masculinity, which can, in return, affect their stands on women’s rights.

  • Hygiene Factors

    The never-ending debate over whether beards are hygienic or not has also taken a toll on a candidate’s facial hair dilemma. Hence, subsequent concerns over hygiene and the bacteria associated with beards also contributed to the decline of its popularity.

    When gas masks were invented and used in combat during World War I, facial hair prevented the mask from functioning correctly. So, that led to widespread shaving among soldiers. Unfortunately, even with the resurgence of the popularity of beards today, it’s never been the same for those in Congress. According to recent estimates, only fewer than five percent of the members of the US Congress have beards or mustaches.

    But, if you are wondering, beards are not dirty—only if you are and only if you don’t manage it well.

  • There’s a Presidential Hair Act

    Well, not really. Over at Quora, somebody is pulling our leg. But it was fun reading about the so-called Presidential Haircut Act of 1974.

    We’re not sure if this is really true. Still, the Act prohibits the president from shaving his head bald unless 82.6% of his head is naturally bald, having a hairstyle longer than 1.45 inches past a shirt collar, parting your hair in the middle, and finally (which made us think this was a joke), having any symbol other than the American flag or bald eagle shaved into the side of your head.

    And as an added caveat, the penalty for violating this act is a 67% reduction in the pension given to former presidents.

  • Beards are for Hippies

    An article in Slate blamed the beard’s exile from contemporary American politics on the rise of communists and hippies. The stereotype of a full-bearded anti-Vietnam war hippie and the popularity of Fidel Castro during those early years reinforced the idea that all beard-loving men are America-hating slackers.

    This perception is still widespread today. No politician running for office would risk alienating his elderly voters by wearing a beard that brings to mind these stereotypes.

    So, until a bearded candidate wins a high-profile election, beards won’t take hold in politics. Politicians are unabashed copycats and generally won’t try a new campaign strategy until it’s been proven to work. Not to mention, being clean-shaven is a usually safer bet over a beard, which carries a lot of trailblazing negative notions.

The Presidential Barber

Milton PittsWilton Pitts was the White House resident barber for decades.
Photo from: Wiki Commons

Back to our earlier question: does an American president have his own personal barber? After all, he must have regular presidential haircuts, right?

As it turns out, he has—at least the presidency used to have one.

Milton Pitts was the White House barber for about 25 years. He was the official Republican barber for four administrations: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush Senior.

Since the position requires a certain amount of trust, presidents tend to bring their trusted people to serve them. That’s why when Obama was in the White House, he brought along his long-time friend and barber of more than 15 years.

Today though, the White House official barbershop is closed. The room which used to be the barbershop is now the office of the Homeland Security director.

Straight Razors are Presidential

Solomon Straight RazorThe Solomon Straight Razor has the perfect grind for a close and clean presidential shave.

Straight razors are at the top of the razor hierarchy, and because of that, they’re naturally the choice of professional and presidential barbers alike.

It’s the only tool that can give a close and clean shave while offering a luxurious and comfortable experience, especially for men who have the entire country’s worries on their back. No self-respecting barber would stoop down to using a cheap plastic disposable or a laid-back safety. For them, it’s the straight razor through and through. It’s the only razor fit for a president.

Here at Naked Armor, our straight razors are luxurious and, dare we say, presidential. They’re crafted using artisanal methods from high-grade Japanese steel and fine, valuable timber wood to achieve the ideal blade-to-handle ratio in supporting the perfect grip.

Professional barbers trust naked Armor's straight razor.

These razors are versatile for all hair textures and different shaving skill sets. Our unique blade design is between a full hollow and half hollow grind. Whether you’ve got coarse or fine hair, our Naked Armor razor will help you get that clean, close shave.

If you’re shopping for a fine gift for your loved one this Presidents’ Day, take advantage of our special offer on our razors and shaving kits. They’re going to be worth every cent.

Check out our site for more of our stuff.

More Essential Reads:

The Best Barber Shave at Home
Hollow Grind Vs. Wedge Shaving Technique
Benefits Of Using A Straight Razor

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