“No Shave November” may have come and gone, but the movement, while worthwhile, is one that perpetuates certain unwritten gender restrictions.
The purpose of “No Shave November” or “Movember” is to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancer. Participants are encouraged to “let it grow” to commemorate the cancer patients who often lose their hair during treatments. Many men choose to partake in the movement by growing beards, but other forms of participation include opting not to shave arms or legs.
It seems women are generally discouraged from participating in the event as a whole. One of the beauty standards in today’s society is the expectation of women’s bodies to be hairless. Therefore, the idea of women allowing themselves to be hairy is often viewed as gross.
I recently asked several guys I know how they feel about girls participating in the no-shave movement. Of the 15 that were asked, only four said they think it is okay for girls to participate. One even said he thought it was sexy to see women moving past vanity and insecurity to support cancer awareness.
I asked those who responded negatively why they felt that way, and responses included statements such as “shaved legs are (part of) what set men and women apart in our society.” These types of reactions are the reason why the movement has experienced as much feminine backlash as it has.
In fact, one year during high school, some girl friends and I decided to do “No Shave November” for that very reason. We had discussed how annoying it was to be subjected to the scraggly wannabe beards of our male classmates for a whole month while we were still expected to shave. At that moment, we made a pact to each other that we would make it through the whole month without shaving.
At first it felt weird and it was hard to resist shaving, but by the end of the month we felt awesome and powerful. It was amazing to prove we could do it and show not shaving did not impact our femininity whatsoever.
Some critics of women participating in the no-shave activities are not on board with the movement because the focus tends to shift from the original purpose to feminism. Like me and my friends, some women can get caught up in the hairy liberation and forget about the true purpose of raising awareness and funds for cancer. I do not see a problem with women participating in “No Shave November,” especially if females remain focused on awareness and donate money that would have otherwise been spent on hair removal supplies to an organization like The American Cancer Society.
Unfortunately, the month of November has already come to end, and female students have missed their chance to participate this year if they did not already. However, I think it is always important to raise cancer awareness and collect donations year round. All in all, I will continue to show solidarity with my fellow female no-shave participants. Students who made disparaging comments to females choosing not to shave last month should reconsider their attitudes in the future. Not shaving during November is a nice way to raise awareness for cancer patients, which is the real focus of the month.
In fact, I encourage everyone to participate in “No Shave November” next year. By putting down the razors for a month and letting hair grow wild and free, students can support a worthy cause in a fun way. Ladies can enjoy a liberating month of hairiness while supporting those with prostate and testicular cancer.