bearded women and unbearded men


Cesare Lombroso and Johan Lavater thought that external appearance demonstrated that criminals were inferior to the law abiding. Bearded women and unbearded men were looked upon with suspicion. Such facial features as shifty eyes, weak chins or arrogant noses were also thought to be suspect.


Ernst Kretschmer analysed over 4,000 criminal cases using his 3 body type model: 1. asthenic (tall and thin) 2. athletic (developed muscles) 3. pyknic (short and fat). He concluded that there is a greater number of violent criminals who correspond to the athletic type, while the asthenic are more likely to be involved in petty theft and fraud. Finally, Kretschmer found that the pyknic tended toward crimes involving deception and fraud but were also sometimes involved in violent crimes.

mug shots

The picture above comes from a book of mug shots. The mug shot originated in the 1880s, in studies designed to explore the relationship between appearance and criminal behavior. These men are all forgers. The New York Police Department compiled this record in part to see if all forgers looked alike, or all murderers looked alike, or if all burglars had the same facial features.


This is a composite photo of twelve Boston physicians, from McClure’s Magazine, September 1894. Why produce such an image? Maybe you could use it to find out what the ideal type of a doctor should look like. Then maybe you could judge how good your doctor was by how much he looked like the ideal type of a doctor.

Or, you could use it to weed people out of medical school–admit one person who looks like the ideal type, and deny another who looks different. Maybe the result would be a society where only people who “really were” doctors could be doctors. Or maybe it would result in a society where you could only be a doctor if you looked something like the imaginary gentleman in the middle……..”

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 8:55 am  Comments (29)  

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29 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have a goatee beard. Does that make me good or bad?

  2. I like goatees!

    • I have had one for so long that I don’t remember my face without it.

  3. i’m a 47 year old woman of sicilian descent. without my friend, mr. wax, i’d look like a boston physician from 1894…

  4. I try to look like a gynecologist evry chance I get.

    • does it help you get laid joey?

    • No … slappd, more oftn than not.

  5. Or, you could use it to reduce everyone to a stereotype.

    Is kissing a man with facial hair a drag? It would seem uncomfortable to me.

    • my ex-husband had a VERY prickly moustache – not a nice feeling and it gave me beard rash. Stephen was clean shaven and heavenly to kiss…..

      I like the look of goatees and don’t mind a soul patch (though I hate that name). can’t remember kissing anyone who sports that sort of facial hair. I need some volunteers for experimentation

      • hmmmm some women like the prickly feeling.

      • Yeah soul patch isn’t the term we use. Its either ‘flavour saver’ or ‘clit tickler’, as you can tell we are classy individuals.

  6. I look the same now as I did 10 years ago. I don’t age much. I wonder what that says about me.

  7. I’ve got a goatee I’ve got a goatee!!!!!!! but I also like pyknics ….. am I bad Nursey? ….. BAD BOY!!!! – tee hee

  8. I like beards. The last several of my men friends have had beards. The longer they let them grow, the softer they get. The Boyo looks like a mountain man right now. I’m trying to get him to trim the beard like it was when I met him. He has been saying “soon” for the last year. Guess I’d better like it full and bushy.

    And I’m definitely a mustached lady these days.

  9. I’m more of a 3 day stubble man, but after that I am ordered to shave by the missus. At the end of the day.. she holds ALL the power.

    • oops… I forgot to include stubble in my list of facial hair turn ons

  10. Would they have different composites for different specialties?

    Rabbit, rabbit.

  11. Fat people are labeled picnic?

  12. Clean-shaven, athletic… but I wouldn’t say my nose is arrogant. It’s just bold.

    You have to be in good shape to be a violent criminal. Violent crime takes a lot of energy.

    • why are bad boys the most attractive?

  13. I generally shave about once a week, so I always have some stubble. Which means I commit misdemeanors, not full-blown felonies. I hope this won’t affect our loving relationship…

    • No, I’m fully committed…..

      • It’s okay, I don’t mind. I’ll practice taking off your straight jacket with my teeth.

      • *swoon*

  14. one of my biggest fears about growing up is having to one day shave not only my legs, armpits and run way but my face …. I am not a religious person but I pray hard that will not happen to me …. I have also suffered from beard rash on occasion, it is a difficult thing to explain away to your daughter ‘ why is your face so red mummy?’,,,,, mmmmm…errr !!

  15. everyone knows about arrogant noses. nobody likes nosy people. nor upturned noses neither.

  16. I suddenly realise I am extremely picky when it comes to male facial hair.

    King Willy must despair. I love it when he has a 4 day stubble, get upset when he shaves it off, but would be appalled (and now possibly call Scotland Yard) if he let it turn into a beard.

    It’s not ALL good to be The King.

  17. i like looking at facial hair, you know that whole jesus christ superstar thing, but anything else is a no-no, just too scratchy; i think it’s really handy to believe you can judge people by the way they look, of course then there’s the whole unfortunate apartheid mess and reservation camp thing

  18. I dunno whether its criminal to look like me.
    After reading this post I understand why they say’ Pyknic spot’….

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