Hair today, gone December 1st: reviewing No-Shave November

Alex Ourth, Courier Staff

Although the end of Halloween often comes with a hint of sadness, it also comes with new excitement as the next month begins. And no, I’m not talking about Christmas (those people need to relax). I’m referring to No-Shave November!

The time of year where both men and women alike let their hair roam freely for an entire month. This non-grooming concept has been sweeping the nation for the past decade, with people showing off their lumberjack-esque transformations. But just exactly how did this phenomenon start, and what is the purpose? These are the questions I hope to explore with a fine-tooth comb (hair pun intended) within this article, with the hope of instilling a greater sense of purpose for you to participate in this fun event. So put your razors down, cause here we go!

The concept of growing out one’s hair in November actually began in 2003 by a couple of Australian men (Travis Garone and Luke Slattery) who were joking over a beer about bringing mustaches back into the fashion spotlight. Being inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to associate their mustache challenge with an issue surrounding men’s health. Settling on prostate cancer, they recruited 30 men for the initial challenge and charged each participant $10 to grow a mustache during the month of November. With the success of the initial challenge, the founders worked to expand their concept into a successful international non-profit organization: The Movember Foundation. Although there have been many changes for the organization over the years (size of the participants, amount of money raised, scope of the health issues supported), the concept behind the challenge remains the same: grow a mustache in November and use it to both inform others about and raise funds for men’s health.

In the United States, we are more familiar with the No-Shave November concept that began back in 2009 by the Chicagoland Hill family. After losing their father to colon cancer in November of 2007, the family decided to transform the concept of not shaving in November into a means for raising money and awareness for cancer-fighting organizations. The concept behind the U.S. No-Shave November is slightly different in that it doesn’t focus solely on growing mustaches. Rather, the goal is to not perform any hair grooming action during the month of November (shaving, trimming, styling, “manscaping”), with the intention of donating the funds saved to cancer-fighting organizations. The idea is to embrace the privilege of being able to grow out of your hair (as cancer patients receiving treatments are unable to). Since its inception, the organization has raised over $2 million for cancer prevention, education and research efforts.

So, if you are up for the challenge, I encourage you to participate in the No-Shave November movement. But more importantly, I encourage you to participate in the way initially intended by the creators. Pick a cause that you would like to support (men’s health, cancer, really anything) and begin growing out your hair for it. When people ask you about the change in your appearance, use the opportunity to inform them about the cause you are supporting.

Finally, actually donate! It doesn’t have to be much (if you consider the costs of not using a razor or having a haircut for the month, it could be as little as $25), but any size donation can make an impact. So, grow it out, show it off and make a difference this year with No-Shave November!