The months of the year are defined in our minds in many different ways. June for the hot sun and days spent on the lake, December for holidays and family, May for the ending of school and blooming of trees-- and November for the grizzled, unkept beards on the faces of men.
It’s a phenomenon known as “No Shave November,” or, as Urban Dictionary puts it, “the month of November in which you don’t shave any hair on your body but instead you grow more bestial, brutish and manly.”
The origins of this craze are disputed, but it has become a staple for men at numerous college campuses across the nation.
“It was a chance to do something on my own. In high school we had to have short hair and shave all the time, and it was the first chance I had out of high school to do what I wanted to do,” University of Kentucky accounting junior Colton Howell said. “I started right after Halloween freshman year, and I didn’t cut my hair or shave until almost February. It got pretty nasty after a while.”
One potential place “No Shave November” could have gotten its start was in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia. Inspired by women who had worked hard to combat and raise awareness for breast cancer, a group of men decided to do something to create a global men’s health movement. That something involved growing a mustache for the entire month of November to serve as a ribbon for men’s health to raise awareness and funds for cancers that affect men around the world.
The word “Movember” was coined, and according to the Movember website, global participation for the cause and more than a million donors raised $42 million for Movember’s global beneficiary partners in 2009.
As instrumental as Movember has been in raising funds and awareness for men’s health, most college students who participate in November’s event do so just for fun, or as an excuse to grow a thick beard and get away with it.
University of Louisville accounting junior Jeff Wills will participate in his first “No Shave November” this month because it’s a reason to get away from the typical clean-shaven face he’s become accustomed to.
“I’m doing ‘No Shave November’ this year because it gives me an excuse to not shave,” Wills said. “The beard will look natural.”
As much as college men enjoy ditching the razor for 30 days, it doesn’t always go over well with the women.
“I’m doing it again this year, but this time I have a girlfriend and she doesn’t necessarily like the idea,” Howell said. “My mom hates the beard too; she was the reason I didn’t do ‘No Shave November’ last year.”
Wills, however, seems to think his woolly face won’t necessarily deter the opposite sex.
“My mom and sister beg me to shave daily but just because they miss my baby face,” Wills said. "I think it would make some girls like me more (to have a beard) and some less, but the ones that like it more are the more interesting girls.”
Either way, look for the Remingtons and Walhs to stay in the medicine cabinet this month, and the faces of our state's collegiate men to resemble Zach Galifianakis from “The Hangover.”