We have all seen the memes and the no-shave November challenge posts on social media. It has become a worldwide trend. Perhaps we can even call it a tradition - chaps proudly sporting their bearded, mustached, unshaven countenance. A lot of blokes who join in on the fun even turn it into a competition of manliness! Who can grow the longest beard? Bragging rights, and sometimes cash, are what’s at stake, and the losers have to do something silly, of course! Are you thinking of jumping on the hairy bandwagon?
No-Shave November is more than just a yearly celebration of manliness, however. It goes beyond being a seasonal fuzzy fashion statement. Most men who join the challenge are actually unaware of the history behind the au naturel, ungroomed look.
All the no-fuss fuss about men’s facial fuzz was a movement initiated by our mates from Down Under, way back in 1999. A group of about 80 lads from Adelaide came up with the idea of growing their mustaches for the whole month of November, and coined the term “Movember” (Mustache November), for charity. In 2004, the Movember movement gave birth to the Movember Foundation, which was started by a different group of men from Melbourne. The charity aimed to raise awareness about prostate cancer and depression in men and, much later, many other men’s health issues. By 2007, Movember events expanded to Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States.
No-Shave November - a similar but separate movement - took the cause one step further and beyond the mustache, encouraging men to also let their beards grow long and wild for the entire month to encourage conversation and raise awareness about cancer. The organization was an offshoot of the Matthew Hill Foundation, which was started by the Chicagoland Hill family in memory of the Hill children’s father who passed away from colon cancer.
Men who participate in the No-Shave November movement refrain from any kind of hair grooming. That means no trimming, shaving, shaping, washing/moisturizing, applying wax, or brushing. Any man who maintains a good-looking mustache and/or beard knows that it takes time and effort to achieve it! Although for those whose jobs require a clean and professional look, trimming and grooming are okay.
Picture this. Three weeks into November, and your beard is looking really unkempt. Finally, somebody from work walks up to you and makes a comment about your new look. After all, you’re usually well-groomed. And, there you go! Your neglected beard has served its purpose. It has started a conversation and the opportunity for you to raise awareness about the cause.
By the time Thanksgiving comes around, you’ll probably closely resemble a caveman. Your family won’t be able to help themselves and you’ll become the butt of their jokes. That will be your cue to start a dinnertime discussion about the prostate, testicles, and the colon. That means cancer awareness can be astutely and craftily worked into a jovial family holiday conversation. So much better than a depressing conversation, or not having the conversation at all. The ungroomed look also serves another purpose. Men have the option to donate the money they usually spend on grooming to cancer prevention research and education, as well as the foundations or causes that benefit cancer patients.
Of course, don’t forget to take photos of your wild and hairy progress for posting on social media. Men’s health issues are a serious subject, but you can be as silly as you want on your social media posts. Just remember to be creative with your captions. Include actionable steps about doing regular self-examinations, scheduling check-ups, and reading up on risk factors for prostate, testicular, and colon cancers.
Now, if you’re the kind of guy who was not gifted with the “macho hairy gene,” but you still want to grow your patchy facial hair for this worthy cause, then go for it, brother! It takes a real man to commit to such a cause under any circumstance, but most especially when the bearded look simply does not agree with you.
Talking about men’s health issues with other men does not always come easily, but No-Shave November gives us the opportunity to open lines of communication and to feel comfortable about having the sensitive discussion about our balls and colon. So, leave your stubble alone, and let your facial hair grow wild and free.