The worldwide phenomenon known as No-Shave November, also called Movember, is sweeping the nation for the 12th year in a row. Originating in 2004 in Australia, men began the movement by growing out their mustaches as a way to draw attention to prostate cancer, according to The Vidette.
The National Cancer Institute reports that prostate cancer affects roughly 12.9 percent of men. Although this may not seem like much, depending on a male’s family medical history, this means that one in almost eight men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
No-Shave November brings awareness to more than just prostate cancer. Men grow out their facial hair in hopes of promoting recognition of prostate and testicular cancer as well as depression and other mental health concerns, per the Movember Foundation.
Since 2004, men have taken the concept of not shaving to the extreme. Instead of simply growing out their mustaches, they’ve decided to refrain from shaving all facial hair.
One such male is Keene State College senior computer science major Matthew Stretton. Stretton has been actively participating in No-Shave November since his sophomore year in high school.
“I never heard anything about the cancer awareness until a few years ago. I thought it was some masculine thing like, ‘Hey, look we can grow facial hair. Let’s show it off in November. Let’s see who can grow the biggest beard in a month’. That’s what I thought it was about,” said Stretton.
First-year safety management major Tristan White is another student who participates in the No-Shave movement. He, too, began back in high school because it was popular.
“It started out [because] my friends were like, ‘Don’t shave this month,’ and I was like, ‘Alright, I can do that. That’s pretty simple,’” said White. “But eventually, my cousin…told me about it and I was like, ‘That’s cool’…[so] I did some more research into it and I thought it looked pretty cool,” White said.
“I think it’s a really cool thing to bring attention to ‘cause you never really hear a lot about prostate cancer. A lot of the times it’s breast cancer or pancreatic cancer or the bigger things, but you don’t really hear a lot about it,” White also said.
However, men aren’t the only people abstaining from shaving–women are as well, but for other reasons.
“The environment No-Shave November creates amongst men is a metaphorical challenge to be, the dangerous construct, “manly”…women should be allowed into the realm of No-Shave November to help break [the societal norm stating that women must shave], because it’s ridiculous,” argued senior Jessica Schaper, an English major.
First-year video production and film analysis major Tyler Thompson commented on Schaper’s argument and said, “A lot of women do No-Shave November to help bring awareness to testicular cancer and I’m completely fine with that. It’s not until they start doing No-Shave November to just…protest shaving their legs because there are a lot of people who start doing it out of protest saying that, ‘Oh, women don’t need to shave’…it’s not what No-Shave November was originally about…I kind of find it disheartening when people start doing No-Shave November not because they want to raise awareness for testicular cancer, but because they…want to contest beauty standards…I’m not against [women] who aren’t shaving, but….it’s not the time to protest that.”
To Thompson, there’s more to No-Shave November than growing a beard. A few years ago, one of his male relatives was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Since then, “[he does] No-Shave November not only to bring awareness to testicular cancer, but to…take the money [he] save[s] [on shaving products] and give it towards charities and researching testicular cancer…”
For more information on No-Shave November, or to make a donation to a non-profit organization regarding No-Shave November, please visit no-shave.org or us.movember.com.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org