Cruz’s new beard serves as a proof point for a few aesthetic and economic theories. First: Beards are contouring for men. Men who complain that women who wear a ton of makeup or don sunglasses in their Tinder profile photos are scamming men into thinking they’re hotter than they are had better never grow facial hair, because beards are capable of facial trickery no contouring palette could hope to accomplish. (Likewise, Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham who mock women like Rep. Nancy Pelosi for getting plastic surgery should be just as ruthless with men who cover up weak chins with beards.) Cruz’s new face also proves that the cultural mystique around beards and masculinity runs deep. He was sick of being regarded as a namby-pamby in a state with the country’s biggest hard-on for machismo, but he looked like an absolute idiot every time he tried to hold a gun. With his beard, he looks ever so slightly less like someone whose idea of athleisure is pleated khakis.
The Cruz beard is also a good argument for free-market economics. When he was the only viable product on offer for Senate voters in Texas, he could get by with his spongy, fully-exposed face. Then, some competition entered the marketplace: a scruffy, sociable former rocker who once looked extremely hot in a ponytail and goatee. Cruz was so thrown for a loop by Beto O’Rourke, he studied photos of the guy in his downtime, wondering how he could imitate or improve upon the innovative (read: sexy) product O’Rourke was offering voters. When Cruz eked out a victory in an unexpectedly close race, he knew he’d have to give his consumers something better to keep their business. Hence, the beard.