No-Shave November: The Unofficial History
This may be entirely true or entirely false but take from it what you will. This is what the month of November means to me. (Besides all the awesomeness of a seasonal Autumn, Thanksgiving, and being the month before the best Holiday season.) In recent years you may have heard of “No Shave November” or “Movember.” This is my take on the two; you, of course, can take what you want from my take!
Probably about six years ago, I heard about an event that was taking place at the University of Maryland and some other large schools. It was a fundraising effort throughout the month of November to raise awareness. As nearly everyone knows October is national breast cancer awareness month, but there is no designated month for male cancers even though it takes the lives of many a men every year. In order to make November the unofficial men’s cancer awareness month, all men were asked to grow all of their hair throughout the month: on their head, on their face, etc.
Throughout the month, the sudden growth of facial hair on people who typically would not grow it (like myself) drew much attention and allowed those participating to explain the cause. Thus, the awareness for men’s cancers and prevention grew. Knowledge is important and if people are not aware of problems then there is a very small chance anything will ever be changed or improved. The other important part of the month comes December 1st.
On the first of December, all the men that have been growing their hair need to get a shave and a cut and a wax, if necessary. Participating barbers and hair dressers in certain locations agreed to work with a cancer-curing related charity. They would give free shaves and haircuts all day at no cost to their business. All of the men who were serviced by them would pay the same amount they would normally be charged, and perhaps a little extra donation, and that money would go directly to the charity. Let’s say a barber took 3 guys an hour for 8 hours. That would be 24 cuts and shaves. That might normally cost about 25 dollars a person, which would then turn into a $600 or more donation.
If you think about how many men and barbers could participate in this, then you could really start to earn a lot of money. And this is something that could be done outside of the United States. It could make millions for cancer research, etc. Obviously not everyone knows about it and a lot of those who do know about it do not participate for various reasons. Here is a briefer explanation of Movember and how it has affected this event.
After a few years, as everything does with men who want to act cool and tough, guys decided to start turning this into a contest. They wanted to increase their ego and feel like the bigger man, so groups of friends and coworkers would say “let’s see who can grow the fullest and biggest beard in a month.” For some time, this was a great way to get more people to participate but eventually, it turned into just a contest. A lot of these groups of guys never knew why no shave November started. They were participating in the contest but not donating or raising money for the charities. What could have been a blessing for the event turned into a curse.
Out of this spirit of competition more recently came Movember. Disclaimer: I do not like or dislike “hipsters.” It is not a style of life that I would ever support and I find it extremely shallow but if people’s goal is to be hip, then let them be hip… as long as they don’t bother me. So why did I say all that about hipsters? Well, it was the hipsters who took no shave November, knowingly or ignorantly, and turned it into a greater contest. They decided to see who could grow the coolest and most outlandish mustache in one month. This continued to take away from the true meaning of the original effort. It grew in popularity, but not in a good way. Movember has spread to be more popular than no-shave November but a positive force was generated from this birth.
Now, men who are participating in Movember (which I never will) have people sponsor their mustaches and they gain donations throughout the month. I can’t say these donations are going to the right place, but if they do then that is a good cause and there has been some restoration to the true goal. So for anyone who is doing or has done Movember or No Shave November because it is the cool thing to do and you want to be hip and trendy, do it for the right reason and gain some money for cancer research or don’t do it at all. And there you have it, the unofficial history of No Shave November.
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