No Shave November celebrates masculinity through scruffiness

Sunday, November 29, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 12:42 a.m. CST, Sunday, November 29, 2009
From left, Jeremy Bowles, Brice Cox, Dave Igleheart, Billy Giordano and Logan Carter enjoy a moment while showing off their mustaches Nov. 18 at Room 38 Restaurant and Lounge. The men grew mustaches for Movember, a cause aimed to raise awareness of men's health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer.

COLUMBIA — Every day in front of the mirror, millions of men take a dangerous weapon and scrape it across their faces.


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Except in November.

Guys all over the country drop their razors and let the stubble grow.

It's No Shave November, a movement that celebrates masculinity and encourages camaraderie by asking men not to shave for the full month.

It is also Movember, a monthlong quest to grow mustaches during the month to bring awareness to men’s health issues.

MU senior Craig Eck, 21, puts away his razor in November and grows a scruffy beard.

“You get an acceptable beard stage, typically after a week, two weeks,” he said. “So then you have that whole week to two weeks where people just think you’re lazy.”

As far back as the mid-16th century, beards were central to gender differentiating as well as maturity between men and boys.

During the Renaissance in England, facial hair and masculinity were synonymous. At the time, without a beard, men were not considered real men.

No Shave November currently has 9,227 members in a Facebook group. The page says participating is an easy way to gain "thousands of man points” and calls the movement an “event to separate the men from the boys.”          

Eck said it is more an opportunity to have one last hoorah of “scruffiness” before hitting the real world after college.

“It has something to do with masculinity,” he said. “But I think it’s more just of not really caring.”          

Simultaneously, Movember is a way to "change the face of men's health" by partnering with Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG movement and the Prostate Cancer Foundation to provide funding for research. Men grow mustaches and help raise money for the cause.

The group began in 2008 with about a dozen participants through the MU Veterinary School. Approximately $7 million was raised globally last year during Movember.

Room 38, a local bar and lounge, hosted a mid-Movember party Nov. 18 to bring together about 70 men who consider themselves the largest group in Columbia.

For the end party Dec. 2, participants are asked to dress up their mustache. Popular themes are policemen, Zorros, and handlebar styles. Awards are given out to the "Best Mo in Character," "The Ultimate Mo," and "Team Mo Bro."

The initial response from a second-year participant: "It's itchy," said Jeff Davis, an MU veterinary student.

Billy Giordano, co-owner of Room 38, said he doesn't particularly enjoy growing a beard, but he does it for the cause.

"There's a purpose behind it," he said. "We're just trying to enjoy it."

Next week, it's time for a shave.

MU student Mike Stagg said he's ready to get rid of his beard.  

“It’s kind of fun, but I can’t wait to shave it off,” he said. 

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