This November was no exception to past Novembers, as male students roamed campus with bushy upper lips. It seems that this hairy month has become a BYU tradition.
“No-Shave November” may be a common phrase used on campus, but the term “Movember” is quickly gaining equal ground. Movember is a men’s health foundation that started in 2004 and is surprisingly less well-known than the 2009 development of No-Shave November.
“This year was my first year growing facial hair during November,” said junior Parker Wilson. “But I did it for a different reason than most. I grew a mustache, not because that’s all BYU allows, but in support of Movember.”
According to the Movember website, the main purpose of the foundation is to “fund programs working to improve the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues.” Men who participate grow mustaches during that month and engage in conversation about men’s health issues.
No-Shave November, on the other hand, raises money for cancer awareness, encouraging participants to donate the money they would have otherwise spent on shaving to cancer research. Both organizations have raised considerable amounts of money over the years and work to raise awareness for each cause. The question is if students really understand the purpose behind the hair and make donations.
“There is a bit of confusion out there right now between Movember and facial hair contests,” said Movember spokesperson Abbie Rumery. “The Movember Foundation goes by no other name. In light of the success and popularity, there have been other facial hair contests directly inspired by Movember.”
Some students may support this purpose behind why they let their hair grow wild for the month of November, but many just see it as a campus fad.
“I thought I was properly participating in Movember and No-Shave November because I wasn’t shaving my mustache,” said junior Tyler Toronto. “That’s good enough, right? Wrong. I just googled the difference between the two and was suprised at the root purposes as to why we have Movember and No-Shave November.”
The Movember foundation has raised more than $550 million since 2003 and funded more than 800 programs in 21 countries. No-Shave November recently paired up with the American Cancer Society to ensure that the funds it has raised over the years will go specifically to the research, prevention, education and continuing care of cancer patients.
These facts, however, may not even be reaching the ears of BYU students who participate in Movember and No-Shave November.
“It’s the only socially acceptable time of the year when I can have a mustache, so I did it,” said BYU law student Blake Young.
Meanwhile, those who started each foundation had purposes in mind other than making November a comfortable time for hair-growing. One of the founders of No-Shave November, Christine Hill, started the foundation because she saw the destructive effects of cancer firsthand.
“In 2007 we lost our father to cancer,” Hill said. “We wanted to do something in his memory and help combat cancer for all who are impacted by it.”