Let’s take the example of the hipster beard. A man is dressing in a chic and casual manner. The beard, his fashionable accessory, full and gorgeous, carefully cared for. It could well be that these bearded specimens are currently more popular with the opposite sex than their beardless counterparts. As a result, they might be more successful in reproduction. But do they also influence human evolution. And in the long run, displace their competitors with sparse facial hair? So do fashion trends have an impact on human development? In other words, can fashion influence our evolution?
Hardly likely. Because by definition, fashion is short-lived in nature. Fashion is a preferred way of dressing, hairdressing, and outfitting over a certain period of time. This particular period changes with years or decades. In contrast, the processes of human evolution is much slower.
Human evolution takes time, a lot of time
This means that the fastest biological changes in humans take thousands of years to occur, as the example of milk tolerance shows. Northern Europeans developed the ability to digest milk in adulthood when livestock began about 7,500 years ago.
This allowed them to adapt to external circumstances relatively quickly. So they evolved over generations. The fashion example of the well-groomed beard would certainly not have had any effects on biological change.
So, fashion trends are too short to influence human evolution. That is why we are simply turning the tables. Evolutionary processes have an impact on current fashion trends. The idea of sexual selection (the conscious selection of sexual partners for successful reproduction) illustrates this rather well.
As with birds of paradise, it is about the signal effect and the conscious display of our attributes. Humans prefer traits that promise prosperity, health and fertility. Currently, it is the full beard that is considered particularly attractive. People often associate beards with strength, self-confidence and masculinity. But let’s see what is considered fashionably attractive in the coming years.