Lions, Tigers and Beards…Oh My!

It’s that time of year again:  colder temperatures, holiday decorations, winter fashion and more facial hair! While walking around campus, you might have noticed a surplus of usually shaved men slowly growing their best man beards.

You might want to stop one of them and ask them what has caused this lapse in grooming habits, and you might learn a thing or two about cancer awareness during your conversation. “No Shave November,” and its more recent cousin “Mo-vember”, were both started with the idea of promoting cancer awareness through conversation. Namely, conversations started about the recent shaving, or lack thereof, of men around the world.

According to an article by “Today,” “No-Shave November” got its start after a beloved father in Chicago lost his battle with colon cancer in 2007. His family, including his eight children, wanted to find a way to pay tribute to their father while raising awareness about cancer and men’s health. His oldest daughter began the “No-Shave November” non-profit organization online in 2009 by selling bracelets and t-shirts and hosting web pages for pledges from participants.

The organization raised $2,000 its first year and more than $1 million in 2014. While the fad has spread across the globe, with participants taking part in different ways from not shaving to simply helping raise money for the cause, it all leads to the same goal – start a conversation with someone to increase his or her knowledge about men’s health and cancer awareness in general, hopefully helping to save a life.

The rules are pretty basic: start the month by shaving on Oct. 31, then forgo your razor or wax for the entire month of November, allowing your clean-shaven façade, or eventual un-groomed state, to start a conversation with someone about cancer. In addition to not shaving, full participants donate any grooming funds they would generally spend during the month to organizations that promote education of cancer prevention, cancer research or aid to those fighting cancer.

Stemming from the success of the “No-Shave November” campaign, “Mo-vember” has gained massive popularity worldwide. According to the Movember Foundation’s website,  the idea was first realized when a group of friends drinking in a pub in Adelaide, Australia came up with the idea of growing their mustaches to promote men’s cancer awareness. The fad started with eighty men in Adelaide and slowly grew until an unrelated group in Melbourne, Australia started their own campaign for 30 men to grow mustaches for 30 days to raise awareness for men’s prostate cancer and depression.

The trend has grown from its small beginning, reaching global proportions. Focused more specifically on men’s health than “No-Shave November,” it is a largely male-led and male participated event and encourages “Mo Bros” to increase awareness of not only early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, but encourages mindfulness of annual checkups, family history and healthier lifestyle choices.

The increase in participation of both movements is a positive sign that the word is getting out there, increasing education and saving lives. It’s a great way to help others, promote an important and life-saving message and even pay tribute to a loved one who is fighting or has lost the fight with cancer. Women are encouraged to participate too, so ladies should feel free to put down those razors and forego the wax for this month, while helping to increase cancer awareness on all gender fronts.

Remember, the next time you sit down in class, don’t assume that un-groomed classmate sitting next to you has forgotten the rules of better hygiene. Instead, start a conversation and save a life.  

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