It’s that time of the year again. Of course we’ll be seeing children dressed as pilgrims and turkeys flying off the shelves at the A&P. But more specifically, we’ll also be seeing grown men refrain from shaving for the month of November.
This phenomenon, known as “No-Shave November,” encourages men of all ages (including teenage boys who have hit puberty) to put their razors down for the month and grow whatever hair they can on their face. Unusual? Yes. Aesthetically pleasing? No.
Despite its absurdity of the concept, the holiday has some meaning. Just as October has officially become National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for women, where pink ribbons are used to represent awareness of breast cancer, November has unofficially become Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. The lumberjack beard has become a symbol of testicular cancer awareness.
Though the history of this phenomenon is hazy, the lineage of “No-Shave November” really began in Australia and New Zealand. Males would grow a moustache for the month to support prostate cancer awareness and various related organizations, and call the event “Movember,” a combination of moustache and November.
According to the National Cancer Institute, testicular cancer is most commonly seen in men between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine, and is diagnosed in about 8,090 new patients yearly. However, this number is slowly climbing, and there is substantial concern about getting the word out to all men about the awareness of testicular cancer.
Naturally, Americans adopted the absurd-but-thoughtful notion, and conceived the over-the-top concept of neglecting to shave their entire face for the month, rather than just the area above their upper lip. Thus, “No-Shave November” was born in the states.
Though men worldwide have shown an interest in partaking in the event, they are limited because some of their employers require a “clean-shaven” look. And, though men acknowledge the importance of the issue, they generally value their jobs over their facial hair. For example, some airlines require their flight attendants to be clean-shaven, as do various banks and restaurants.
Thus, “No-Shave November” is passed along to the next-generation of men who are somewhere in between adolescence and the workplace: college students. Yes, male college students across the nation are advocates for the issue. Just page through the seemingly countless Facebook groups that have started that advocate not shaving in November. Thousands of members are in each group, thus suggesting that this phenomenon is growing evermore in our culture.
Though they are concerned with testicular cancer, other factors weigh into their decision not to shave for a month; not wanting to spend their money on razors and impressing ladies with their overbearing masculinity are just a few. I mean, really, what’s more manly than a lumberjack beard?
Nevertheless, walking around a college campus now is like hiking through the woodlands of Alaska. There are many grizzly men walking around, all trying to prove that they can go the whole month without shaving.
However, not all men are supporting the beard-epidemic. “Why would I not shave for a month? That’s like not putting on deodorant for a month,” says Syracuse University freshman William Stattman. “Of course I support testicular cancer awareness, but not shaving for a month? That’s disgusting!”
Others, though, clearly do not share this sentiment. “I am definitely participating in ‘No-shave November.’ It is a socially acceptable way to grow out my beard and simultaneously get the word out about testicular cancer,” says Elon University junior Nick Dioguardi.
Nevertheless, now is the time for all men to put their razors down for the month, bask in the thickness of their beards (or the peach-fuzz on pre-pubescent boys’ faces), and remember to spread awareness of testicular cancer. If November is not a good time to grow out your beard, just remember that there is always “Decembeard,” “Manuary,” and “Facial Hair February.”