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No-Shave November movement for cancer awareness

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Illustration by: Birmy Michelle | Staff Illustrator

No-Shave November is more than just a time to let hair grow out and ogle at cuties with newly coifed beards.

The origin of the movement has a greater purpose than aesthetics. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of their natural ability to grow hair to raise awareness for cancer patients who often lose their ability to grow it themselves.

The point of No-Shave November is to avoid shaving, waxing and haircuts for an entire month. A participant can then donate the money that would have otherwise be spent on hair care in the name of research, primarily for prostate and testicular cancer.

Unfortunately, there have been many negative critics who have attempted to derail the movement as a protest to beauty standards that women uphold. These critics seek to commandeer the movement, wanting to make a counter organization named No Shame November in response to insensitive jokes made on the web.

A 2012 Daily Dot article claims that No-Shave November is “not a charity campaign and is purely about being lazy and letting your razors lie dormant for the month.” This is untrue. The actual origin of the movement can be traced back to Australia in 2004, where it was intended as a way to raise awareness for prostate cancer.

In addition to the Australian movement, No-Shave November took root in America in 2008 with the nonprofit organization of the same name. It is undeniably the reason that so many now know the tradition of being hairy for the month of November.

Just because a person is ignorant about the facts of a movement does not make the cause less valid or important. Ignorance also does not give detractors the right to belittle the movement in order to exalt their own ideas. The Daily Dot article also claims that women are not allowed to participate due to negative stigmas, insinuating these stigmas are more pressing than raising awareness.

Yes, women can face negative social stigmas when they do not shave, but that is absolutely no reason to tear down a movement meant to help cancer patients and their families. I urge people to take some perspective. Surely the negative stigma some people hold can take a temporary backseat to thousands of men dying every year due to a disease that can be treated with more awareness, research and knowledge about the subject.

Just as October is the month dedicated to breast cancer awareness, November is dedicated to testicular and prostate cancers. Perhaps if people wish to discuss the stigmatization of hair on the female body, they should do so in a way that does not take attention away from a cause devoted to treating terminal illness.

If you see a person participating in No-Shave November, ask them about the cause. If they do not know about the cause, share the origin of No-Shave November with them. Every person—men and women—willing to participate in No-Shave November this year should donate to a cancer research center.