When I was first introduced to No Shave November on Thanksgiving (late November) a few years back by my two normally clean shaven cousins, they arrived at the family gathering with straggly brown beards.Their reasoning for the sudden face hair was to promote awareness for cancer, which they called No Shave November.
At the time, I was excited to learn about a new trend in hair. From what we discussed while laying out the forks and napkins, I had the impression that the group was promoting awareness for cancer, and who can say no to that? As it turns out, however, that’s not the only way you can participate.
Since No Shave November was approaching and I had this handy little blog, I started compiling research for a new post and came across a group with the title “No Shave November.”
Looking at the official rules from this group’s website, their goals sounded askew from what I was expecting.Their take goes a little something like this: “The goal of Noshember (No Shave November) is not so much the contest or even the ritual of shaving, but rather the shear laziness of being unkempt and rough together for an entire month.”
Where was the part about cancer? And the goal sounded more philosophical. Take the language they used “of being unkempt and rough together for an entire month.” It sounded like J.M. Berry’s Peter Pan or Lady Gaga’s I’m as Free as My Hair. Setting aside Peter Pan’s idea to never grow up, the goal for Noshember reminded me of the untamable nature of Peter Pan. In this case, Noshember was upending the civilized convention of grooming.
So, here I had an image of No Shave November as a group of people who were reaching outside tame civilization to recapture some illusive white stag of freedom through the use of their hair. I was confused. None of what I’d found had anything to do with sticking it to cancer.Then I came across this site for a No-Shave November. Their goal read: “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. Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.”
There it was. I was missing the hyphen.
If you get lost looking for the non-profit, cancer awareness No-Shave November, look for their logo of a bowler hat over a moustache and goatee. You’ll also find the American Cancer Society logo at the bottom of their page that links to that site where you can send your donations.
Though I’m not participating this year and am not officially connected with any No Shave November group, last year I wanted to research how more surface coverage of hair would affect the way I saw myself. It was an experiment tied to the question of how it would feel to live in a culture that promoted rather than discouraged hairiness. I hadn’t found the Noshember version at that point, but the results would probably be identical.
After a month of not shaving, I found that it was nice to be lazy in the shower and to use the extra time to practice writing. It was cleansing to shave again.
The extra hair had felt restrictive like there was a barrier between my body and the interactions with the physical world. It couldn’t have been a thought about appearance as a restriction. It was more physical than that. When it comes down to my appearance, if I am not trying to follow convention, I don’t pay much mind to what others think. My value lies in something higher.
I suppose then it is the intention of why you groom that matters. Inclusion. To communicate. At its core, hair is a language used to ensure some form of survival. Spiritual survival. Physical survival. Emotional survival. Take your pick.
Since I started this project of studying hair, I have often come to the point of saying, “It’s just hair. Why put in so much effort?” Yet, how much does hair reflect your identity, you’re emotional state and isn’t your awareness of being alive something far more than just hair?
If you want to use November to promote awareness for a cause like my cousins who proudly sported their beards for the fight against cancer, go for it! Or test how hair is wrapped into your sense of self.
To participate, simply don’t shave – anything. Actually, the official rules for both Noshember and the cancer awareness No-Shave November say don’t shave your facial or leg hair. Deciding to not shave the other areas where hair grows is a personal preference.
Don’t forget to check out PQ’s new Pinterest page. This month I’ll be focusing on the Beard and Moustache boards in honor of No Shave November.
~ Until Tomorrow