Justin Trudeau has a beard.
This is important news. The prime minister returned from family vacationing in Costa Rica sporting some salt-and-pepper stubble. And not just stubble, but the actual roots of something that could be called a beard. He’s no Nick Offerman or Santa Claus, but that is, in fact, a beard.
We all make choices on vacation. We forget to use sunscreen. We get weird back tattoos. We grow out beards. But what matters is what we do with those choices.
Is the PM’s beard here to stay? Rather than leave it only to exist in paparazzi photos and social media rumours, Trudeau came out loud and proud with his new face fur, debuting it in a very important official photo of very important discussions with Defence Minister (and noted fantastic beard-haver) Harjit Sajjan on his first day back at the job.
This morning, @HarjitSajjan and I met with @CDS_Canada_CEMD & @DMDND_SMMDN to discuss the latest developments in Iraq. The safety & well-being of Canadians in the region is our top priority, and we’ll keep monitoring the situation closely and encouraging de-escalation. pic.twitter.com/C3PUpUMFvR— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 6, 2020
That’s all to say, we could very well have a bewhiskered prime minister for the next little while.
In a post for Vice, Sarah Berman suggested the reasons for our nation’s leader growing out the facial hair of a dad rock-band rhythm guitarist. Maybe it’s to look more professional. Maybe it’s a hockey beard. Maybe he just didn’t want to shave.
Whatever the case, it’s here and it certainly is a beard.
You probably have questions. I definitely do. Why does our prime minister with a beard look weirdly like my step-father Tony? With that hint of grey, is “daddy Trudeau” a thing now? Is the PM dying his perfectly dark locks and those faint grey beard hairs are a hint at what’s aged ol’ JT over the past four years? What does Trudeau’s beard say about the steady passage of time and our declining climate? Is Donald Trump jealous?
Well, you’re in luck. Here’s every question you have about Trudeau’s beard, answered.
Why does Trudeau have a beard?
Well, many men can grow beards. It’s a fact of life for most folks who naturally produce testosterone or take it as hormone-replacement-therapy. Stop shaving that face, and little hairs will sprout. The degree to which the beard comes in is all up to genetics, and it’s your choice as to what you do with those hairs.
If we want to get really technical, men grow beards because the hair follicles in their jaws are stimulated by the hormone dihydrotestosterone. Scientifically, beard growth isn’t directly and wholly linked to testosterone levels, but studies show beards are linked with attracting mates. Of course, with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau in the picture this doesn’t apply, but attracting NATO allies is basically the same thing, right?
Evidently, Trudeau chose to use his vacation to let the chin hairs fly. We can guess at his motives, but it’s likely we’ll never truly know why.
What is Trudeau’s beard history?
The PM has a more fraught history with facial hair than most. If documented photos are to be believed, recent PMs have avoided it altogether. However, some incredibly incriminating evidence persists of our current leader sporting a less-than-ideal mouth merkin.
TRUDEAU: What's one trait you'd most like a Prime Minister to have?— Zubes (@the_Zubes) October 21, 2015
ME: Old timey goatee.
TRUDEAU: Say no more pic.twitter.com/mO7c41a67Q
Take the great goatee of 2011. Looking like an extra out of a Kenneth Branaugh Shakespeare adaptation, Trudeau rocked a precise goatee for, frankly, too long. He was mocked. He was questioned. He was compared to extras from Pirates of the Caribbean movies (also iconic of the late 2000s/early 2010s). He looked like the image of a Captain Morgan bottle.
The year before, it was arguably worse. A thin moustache and tiny soul patch reminiscent of that guy in your undergrad English class who wrote you love sonnets. It was a lot.
Of all the facial hair looks, frankly, the current salt-n-pepper daddy scruff is the most tolerable.
What are people saying about the current beard?
Mixed reviews. Some think it’s sexy…
Justin Trudeau's beard is dope. He's like a sexy Thomas Mulcair now and I am here for it.— Nicholas V.N (@IAMNedin) January 7, 2020
While others think it’s Trudeau purposefully trying to look more distinguished.
BREAKING: Trudeau grows beard to make Canadians believe he was thinking very hard during Christmas vacation pic.twitter.com/fa4Dhp7FNn— BudrinoPolitics (@BudrinoPolitics) January 6, 2020
Others respect the choice.
And others, frankly, don’t care.
I don’t care about Justin Trudeau’s beard. You shouldn’t either.— Becca Polak (@BeccaPolakSays) January 7, 2020
Have other PMs sported the facial fuzz?
Yes, but not in a long while. Believe me. I tried to find Stephen Harper beard photos. They aren’t out there.
Trudeau’s dad Pierre Elliot Trudeau never sported the full face scruff while on the big job, though he did grow out the stubble while serving as leader of the official Opposition. In a letter to the elder Trudeau, Marshall McLuhan wrote that it was useful to sport a beard. Trudeau told the CBC at the time that McLuhan told him it “cooled down” his image.
The last PM to sport a proper beard while in office was Sir Mackenzie Bowell, the fifth prime minister of Canada. Bowell’s beard was lush and Santa-like, probably the product of months of careful grooming and tender care. Trudeau’s could get there one day, if he dreamed it.
But why haven’t PMs since then opted for the face lace?
According to a 2015 study from Oklahoma State University professor Rebecca Herrick, women in modern times are less likely to vote for politicians with facial hair. Herrick noted that fewer than five per cent of U.S. Congress members at the time of her study sported facial hair because they didn’t want to come across as too aggressive. In the U.S., no president has sported facial hair while in office since 1913.
In terms of western leaders in general, neither U.S, President Donald Trump or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sport facial hair. Nor do any of the other G7 leaders. Keeping the beard could be a big statement for Trudeau on the world stage.
But the odds are stacked against the younger Trudeau’s face fungus lasting long.
Why do I find bearded Trudeau so unsettling?
Maybe it’s the change of it all? The world has grown accustomed to Trudeau as this young, Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid” figure with a glint in his eye. Seeing that image turned into hardened war-daddy overnight can be distressing.
But the fact of the matter is, he’s almost 50. He’s a grown-up, and grown-ups can grow beards if they want to. The rest of us just have to deal with it.
What does Trudeau’s beard say about our current world?
Time is fleeting, nothing really matters, why can’t Justin Trudeau grow a beard? We’re all going to die anyways.
It’s a new decade and within a week the U.S. has already sparked international threats of war while an entire continent burns down under. If Trudeau’s 2020 resolution is to look like Liev Shreiber in a bad romantic comedy, so be it! If I could grow a beard in these trying times, I definitely would. But I can’t, so I resign myself to spending the first days of the 2020s writing about our prime minister’s facial flavour-saver. This is the life I chose.
Will Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer grow a beard?
The Tory Leader has no public photos involving facial hair. But for reference, here is Andrew Scheer’s notable baby-like face with a beard on it thanks to FaceApp.
During the 2019 federal election, my roommate pointed out that Scheer looks a bit like Baby Grinch from the 2001 Jim Carey adaptation of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
That character is notable for being teased for growing a beard at a young age. But if Scheer himself grew a beard at an early age, he should actually have nothing to be ashamed of, if you ask me. In fact, the beard weirdly suits Scheer. Maybe he’ll pull a Beto O’Rourke and grow one out during his post-resignation period.
And, of course, to cover the major parties fairly, here’s NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh with a beard.
If you ask us, suits him just fine.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in! What do you think of bearded Trudeau?
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.