After analyzing 154 species of primates, researchers at the University of Australia found that male primates who live in larger, multilevel societies use physical “ornaments” or “badges” to signify “identity, rank, dominance or attractiveness" to females.
The study published in Evolution and Human Behavior also found that using these identity markers works in humans as well, specifically with beards, tattoos and piercings being the ornaments men use to attract women.
"In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick, reliable tool to evaluate someone's strength and quality, and that's where these elaborate ornaments come in," lead researcher Cyril Grueter told the University of Western Australia's University News. "In the case of humans, this may also include phenotypic extensions such as body decoration, jewelry and prestige items."
This new scientific finding definitely explains the rise in hipster beards, tattoos and piercings with Millennials. But the main takeaway here is that although these badges are trending in our generation, attractiveness is based more on individuality and self-expression. Whether that’s a unique piercing, a colorful hairstyle or alternative clothing choice, it’s how you stand out that makes you desirable.