Many names exist for it – the nose neighbor, the mouth brow, etc. – but all signify facial hair, and November events encourage tossing away the shaving cream for a cause.
“No-Shave November” and “Movember” movements use body hair to raise awareness about men’s health issues. For No-Shave November, the deal is simple – on Oct. 31 you shave for the last time until Dec. 1. Movember’s rules are similar, except it only requires participants to grow a mustache.
According to movember.com, the Australian movement started raising money in 2004 through online donations promoting mustaches as “the ribbon for men’s health.” In 2009, the event raised more than $42 million for charities like the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
From there, the challenge extended into the more general and informal No-Shave November, where anyone of any gender agrees not to shave for a month.
A study by research group Sperling’s Best Places and razor company Schick found that USF ranks as the third-hairiest university among 60 major colleges, with 63.5 percent of male students possessing some sort of facial hair.
This year, I decided to lend a hand – or face – to the cause. I chose to contribute by growing a full beard that I would shave into a mustache at the month’s end.
This initial week felt exhilarating. By day three, I was starting to see real stubble and not the usual 5 o’clock shadow one gets after forgetting to buy razors.
However, this week could also be considered the lazy-looking phase, or what my girlfriend refers to as the “sandpaper” phase.
At this point, people aren’t sure if you’re intentionally growing a beard or if you’ve just turned into a slob.
By this scruffy phase, hairs have finally come in but haven’t developed much length.
People had also begun to notice my intentions. With scruff starting to gather, my friends asked me, “So why did you decide to grow a beard?”
I could proudly answer by telling them about each event’s causes and charities – my facial hair was becoming a hero.
Yet, with the scruff came an unwanted side effect – my girlfriend started kissing me less. All future participants should note that short, sharp facial hair will aggravate the skin of anyone you kiss. Though I enjoy her affections, I soldiered on for the sake of Movember.
By week three, the itching began as the hairs gained length and felt slightly less coarse. At the same time, this newfound facial fur started to curl and irritate my skin.
But with the bad comes the good, and by now, my male friends had really taken notice. They commented on how I looked more distinguished and even more masculine.
For someone who has a natural baby face, these are wholly welcome compliments.
Beyond bothersome face friction, be advised that beards can also begin to smell. It can be hard to notice because the hair is in such close proximity to the nose – and the bearded one gets used to it – but a significant other can easily pick up on an unclean beard odor.
The hair was finally long enough to really begin filling in, and I began to be called “mountain man.” The itching had almost completely subsided, and the hair even reached down over my lip.
Not only that, but with this length of facial hair, I was able to comfort myself by stroking my beard in times of deep thought. Even my girlfriend started coming around to the beard, and said she liked how it made me look a couple years older. But it still tickled her when we kissed, so it had to go.
For my last November act, I decided to shave off little areas of my beard to see which styles fit best. When I first tried the full goatee, I thought I looked like my own evil twin or like Evil Spock from Star Trek.
Next, I tried the Frank Zappa, or a mustache and soul patch combo named after the avant-garde rocker. It didn’t look bad, but I would have needed another two months to even compare to his epic mustache.
My baby face didn’t seem to fit the Tom Selleck – a straight, untrimmed mustache – either. Maybe in another 10 years it might work, or maybe if I grew more chest hair to match it.
I finally went for the pencil-thin John Waters mustache, or “the Artist” as I call it. I trimmed down to the lip line and cut the hairs short. The short-lived results were a bit goofy and a bit creepy.
Having returned to bare skin, I felt a little naked. I nearly forgot what I looked like under the hair.
For those interested in growing a beard – for No-Shave November or otherwise – be aware of both the costs and benefits. You will appear manlier and more rugged, but you will also need to wash your face more. You will itch and you will even be kissed less, but these are small prices to pay in the name of men’s health.