Love and the Hairy Hero

bearded-man.jpg Think about it.  When was the last time you saw  a romance hero with a beard?  Even in western historicals, set mostly in the late 1800’s when facial hair was in fashion, our heroes tend to be clean shaven.   Hmmm.  It’s got me wondering.

In America, prior to the mid-nineteenth century, beards and moustaches were rare.  Except for frontier types, certain religious groups and a few nonconformists, men shaved away their whiskers to look presentable.  Then, around the time of the Civil War, the fashion changed.  Men all over the country took to a garden variety of moustaches, long sideburns and full beards.  What did the women think of that?  I’m guessing nobody asked them.  

In the late 1800’s heyday of the Old West, the rage was moustaches.  Big ones.  Look at old photos of, say, Wyatt Earp and his cohorts.  They all sported drooping, handlebar moustaches.  Even so, books set in this period, including mine, tend to feature clean shaven heroes.

wyattearp1.jpg

Facial hair went out of fashion at the beginning of World War I.  Soldiers needed clean shaven faces so their gas masks would seal tightly.  Also, excessive hair on face or head posed a risk for head lice and worse.  Recruits were shaved and shorn, and the style clicked.  With the invention of the safety razor about this time, clean cut remained the style for decades.  Beards didn’t show up again until the 1960’s and 70’s when beatniks and hippies brought them back.  These days a well trimmed beard or moustache is perfectly acceptable.  But when was the last time you saw one on a romance cover?

Long hair—now that’s another thing.  Long haired heroes have their own brand of sizzle.  Remember Fabio with his leonine mane and million dollar face?  But aside from mountain men and Native Americans you don’t see many photos of long-haired men in the Old West—chin length for want of cutting maybe, but not really long.  Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill were notable exceptions, but for most western men, I’m guessing long hair would have been hot and hard to keep clean, as well as unfashionable.

Which brings us to the other kind of hair.  Body hair was never a fashion issue.  But women tend to love it or hate it.  And I have yet to see a really hairy romance hero (except for Sam here, who inspired this blog). 

cowboy_hunk_thumbnail.jpg 

So what about future heroes?  Speaking for myself, after wiping the drool off my TV screen at the end of “Dancing With the Stars,”  I’m ready for (ta daaa) the Hairless Hero! 

jason-taylor.jpg 

What do you think?  Do you like hairy heroes?  Would you buy a book with a bearded hero on the cover?  How about the man in your own life?

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

39 thoughts on “Love and the Hairy Hero”

  1. I remember watching Gettysburg and they had the full beard sideburns and moustache.

    But i dont think I like the look. but a well kept and trimmed beard wouldn’t put me off. but liek the ones from the civil war not sure i would like that.

  2. I can handle facial hair, so long as it’s not out of control or rides high up on the cheekbones. If the hero on the cover looked like say, Tim McGraw, Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck, or maybe Trace Adkins, I’d probably be draw to it. ;o)

    As for hairy bodies..the bare minimum or hairless works, but wooley bears are a turn off for me.

    Wouldn’t want handlebar moustaches or thick sideburns. Neatly trimmed and well shaped facial hair though…not a bad thing…not a bad thing at all. My hubby sports a moustache/goatee and I think it makes him look sexy.

  3. Good morning, Ladies. Thanks for your fun comments. Personally I like looking at a nicely trimmed beard or moustache (love Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot), but after dating a couple of men with face hair, I found I wasn’t crazy about the close-up feel of it.

  4. Another question–how do you feel about bald heroes? I’m aware of a writer who tried one and couldn’t get him past her editor. But there’ve been some gorgeous bald men in the world of movies, TV and sports. Opinions?

  5. Okay Sam has the hot bod but the mustache is way to much, thinner would be better body hair is just something to run your hands threw sorry if that was to much but back hair Pleaze…No! As for bald head guys anyone watching American Idol would agree Chris Daughtry is quite sexy however my guys in books i love the long hair.

  6. I love a mustache. My hero has had a trimmed beard and mustache for many many years. When my youngest daughter was about two, he shaved, and she wouldn’t look at him.

    If it’s Tom or Sam, thick is fine. Chest hair is a definite yes.

    Sam “inspired” me, too, Elizabeth! I thought I was going to have the vapors when I enlarged that picture for the voting post.

  7. My hubby has always had a moutache so I’m kinda drawn to them. I do like a tad of body hair, too…and I agree totally with Taryn’s comment about Tim, Sam and Trace. Sigh.

  8. Interesting blog, Elizabeth! You pose questions I’ve long wondered about myself. I don’t know what it is about a man with neatly trimmed facial hair. Or chest hair which I love. There’s something about body/facial hair and testosterone. It just goes hand in hand. Sure makes my knees weak. Ha, maybe it goes back to the caveman days when hair was everywhere!! lol

    But, I like a sexy bald man too. Go figure! Jason Taylor who’s on Dancing With the Stars has a ton of sex appeal and the moves to go with it. He’s definitely loose-hipped and can swivel real well.

    When it comes right down to the nitty gritty, I don’t think facial hair plays that big a part. Maybe it’s something else entirely that excites us? The glint in an eye, the beginning of a heart-stopping grin, and the way he treats a lady.

    Hope you have a fun time sorting all this out. It’s a deep subject! 🙂

  9. That was very diligent of you to enlarge the picture, Cheryl. We all so appreciate the sacrifices you make for Petticoats & Pistols. 😀

    Ummmmmm… my husband has had a beard a couple of times in his life. It’s really warm in the winter but he doesn’t like the mustache. It gets damp and freezes, he hates it and the look beard and NO mustache is just a no go. So he’s hairless.

    In…thinking…Midnight at Ruby Bayou and… Pearl Cove, Elizabeth Lowell had her heros with beards. I can’t remember if Jake in Jade Island had one or not, but she must have enjoyed the facial hair.

    In…Susanne Brockman’s books she’s let Lt. Paoletti go bald. I kind of liked that. I mean let’s face it, these things happen. She made it really work for the Lt.

    Goatees are really popular right now, I know, but those weird ‘soul patch’ deals that just barely cover a chin dimple…I don’t get that. i wonder if it’s BECAUSE they DON’T have a chin dimple that they grow one.

    Interesting and possibly true fact…the chin dimple is the most given plastic surgery for men.

    Ben Affleck…NOT born that way. Most of them… not born that way.

  10. And speaking of long hair, did any of you see that article about cover models in Romantic Times. They said Adrien Paul came to the cover model convention.

    Pam, is this what you were at?

    Was Adrien Paul…The Highlander…a cover model?

    And does anyone have a SAMPLE COVER?
    You can include the book I spose.

  11. I don’t believe I would care for a hairy hero on
    a cover because I really don’t like the hairy
    look. That includes face, hair and body! Honey
    had a mustache for a few years. But he has been
    clean shaven for 20+ years, except for Saturdays
    or vacations. As for the hairless look, I have
    only two words: JASON TAYLOR!
    P.S. I know someone whose friend got a photo of
    Adrian Paul at an RT luncheon!

    Pat Cochran

  12. I agree with you about the soul patch Mary. It’s kind of like, do they really think that looks cool?
    And Jason Taylor, Pat? Yes, yes yes! What a gorgeous man! And he moves like a panther.

  13. Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m married to a hairless hero and he’s hot! I will say that I like to see some stubble on a man’s face, giving him a rugged, unshaven look, but not lots of long hair or beards and I’m not into lots of body hair either.
    Diversity makes the world go around!!

  14. I love hairless heroes, Charlene. Yul Brynner, Patrick Stewart, and the recent bald hotties. In some societies, like feudal Japan, baldness was a sign of wisdom and longevity–in other words, bald men passed on good genes.

  15. I saw the cat joke coming a mile away, Elizabeth. 😀

    I’ve never felt the same about Bruce Willis since he shaved his head. I mean c’mon, this is hollywood, get some fake hair up there and make it look good.

  16. Love a nice trimmed beard. Love Men with chest hair. My husband has a lot of chest hair, unfortunately it doesn’t extend to his head. I told him not to worry about the hair on his head, I would only leave him if the hair came off the chest. (lol)

  17. I also don’t like beards or moustaches. I don’t mind goatees as much. I like chests with hair and without. I see a lot of covers where the male model’s chest is waxed clean. A little chest hair is fine, but I don’t want a super hairy chest.

  18. Two equally valid sides of the fence, Sherry and Jane. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
    I was just looking at the photo of Sam, our hairy cowboy hunk. He’s wearing a hat. Wonder what his head looks like underneath….?

  19. Personally I dig chest hair and would definitely buy a book with a bearded hero on the cover. Of course, I think mountain men are totally sexy 😉 And Captn’ Jack Sparrow has a beard 😀

    All of my heroes have chest hair, which is kinda funny considering the glossy hairless chests depicted on my covers–that’s not a complaint, mind you 😉 The hero in my first book (second book to publish) had a mustache…but my editor requested that I shave him–“readers prefer a clean-shaven face”–we compromised on keeping a five’o clock shadow *g*

    As for bald headed…with chest hair–still sexy 😉

  20. Ok on bald. This is interesting you see sports people and others who shave there hair off and it looks quite dashing. but some people dont do bald at all. If the hero is well toned buffed etc it looks good on them. but if hes not then no.
    And the sunburnt look isn’t good either.
    But then Bald can look much better than a mullett.

  21. Elizabeth I agree. Oh my friends husband shaves his head figured he was going bald abit anyway so he shaves it, hes a youth pastor but it looks good on him. I guess in books if the guy on the front cover is bald and good looking its not so bad. But I guess too it depends who the story is aimed at and what age etc.

  22. I weep when I look around me and see NO longhaired men at all. I love long haired men, always have, always will. Love hairy chests on men, men who look like men instead of a hairless,shaved head android. This unsettling “trend” for shaved heads and buzz cuts on men purely distresses me. So I dont have a man in my life, I refuse to compromise on this. The young guys of today who deliberately shave their head so they can look like everybody else, in a few years, a lot sooner than you think, and you are bald and have no hair at all and cant grow anymore, you will wish for the hair you shaved off your head.

  23. Love your comment, Sylvia. I’m fond of long haired men, myself, and I find body hair sexy. Whatever’s natural. Men who have their chest hair shaved or waxed are missing the boat!
    Thanks for visiting.
    Elizabeth

  24. I know my comment is way out of date but I just found this website. Have to say that “Sam” caused some hyperventilating around here. WHO THE HECK IS HE??? I don’t like back hair but chest hair is a huge plus for me. I like a neatly trimmed goatee or a reasonable mustache but a full on beard is usually too much. A shaved chest is a total turn off. I like a character with a full head of hair and a little on the long side. On the other hand, my husband has shaved his head for years and now I can’t stand it if he lets it grow out.

  25. Got your fun comment, Linda. Sorry, I can’t tell you anything about “Sam.” I think I lifted the photo off somebody else’s blog. Probably just a model. But Holy Cow….I know what you mean. Lots of hyperventilating over that picture. Thanks for visiting. Please drop by again.
    Elizabeth

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