Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Poop in (Victorian) Beards

Nowadays, when you mention the long beard trend, most people immediately think of hipsters; I still think of the Victorians. With the news this week that these hipster beards harbour the kind of bacteria found in fecal matter, I rolled my eyes and thought about other problems the Victorians had with poop.

Essentially, overpopulation in the City of London caused the Times to speculate in 1894 that by 1950 the horse poop in the streets would be nine feet deep. It was the full-time occupation of the city's block boys to keep the streets free of manure. If you are worried about your beard filling up with poo as you go about your business today, imagine how crappy Bram Stoker's beard was!

In spite of the fact that Stoker took a bath every night before bed, the Victorians aren't remembered for their excellent hygiene, or medical care. Although they weren't known for their especially long life spans, walking around with poop all over their faces isn't what was killing them.

Before you throw hygiene to the wind and embrace the notion of getting poop on your face, remember that a basic understanding of science may be lacking in populations that resist learning about evolution (namely much of the Southern United States and people in the nineteenth century). It wasn't actual poop that they found in the beards of men in Albuquerque, it was the kind of bacteria found in the stomach and in poop. If you don't have enough, or the right kinds of these bacteria, you may develop ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal conditions, which are sometimes even treated with a fecal transplant (they take the poop bacteria from the tummy of a healthy person and put it into the tummy of a sick person).

If you are a hipster, be like Stoker. Enjoy your beard, but wash it often. Irregardless of whether you have a beard, no one is going to want to kiss you if you don't take a bath.

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