No Shave November promotes cancer awareness

From trending hashtags on Twitter t0 celebrity accounts on social media to Instagram posts to memes, No Shave November sweeps the internet every year. Suddenly, pictures of people from all over the United States, who decided not to shave or groom their body hair for an entire month, are everywhere. Why?

Although many may not know the meaning behind the trend, No Shave November works to promote cancer awareness and research. Some people get No Shave November confused with Movember. The difference is that Movember is more widely focused on men’s health, including mental health, prostate and testicular cancer, and suicide prevention, while No Shave November focuses specifically on cancer research.

No Shave November officially began as a way to raise money in the fall of 2009, when the Chicagoland Hill family, grieving the loss of their father, Matthew, to colon cancer, decided to raise awareness, as well as money, for cancer research, through fun and goofy tactics. Participants were encouraged to stop shaving for the month of November and donate the money they would have spent on shaving and grooming expenses to cancer research organizations.

Not many high schoolers are able to grow beards themselves yet, but quite a few know people in their lives who have participated.

“I’ve never participated, and I probably won’t until I can actually grow a good beard, but my cousin has before. ” Junior Aidan Lanz said. “I don’t know how much money he raised, but he did get a pretty nice beard.”

Not all students have had such a successful experience with No Shave November.  

“My brother, and my dad [participated],” Ninth grader Jayden Jones said, “It didn’t look very good, but they did it.”

While No Shave November has been wildly popular, many people are not aware of the meaning behind the trend. Sophomore Annabelle Bond said, “[It’s] probably to promote awareness of something.”

Jones added, “I know it’s where people who shave their face just kind of don’t for November. I think it’s an awareness thing, but I’m not sure what for.”

The No Shave November website’s mission statement is “No-Shave November is a web-based, non-profit organization devoted to growing cancer awareness and raising funds to support cancer prevention, research, and education.”

The organizations supported include Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

Why use not-shaving to raise awareness and money for cancer? Well, the No Shave November website stated, “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free.”

Now, 9 years later, participants set up their own fundraising websites, where friends and family can donate to various organizations if the participant succeeds in not shaving for the entire month. Some people register online as a team, while others do it solo.

Some people choose to treat it as a competition, attempting to grow better beards and mustaches than others. Some grow out their leg or armpit hair, rather than facial hair. For those uncomfortable with the hair growth, they are still able to donate money to organizations in order to show their support. The event is open to all, no matter facial hair growing ability. Even a few dollars is appreciated as a donation.