Long hair because they care

Students share stories of participation in ÔNo Shave November'

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November is not only the month of students making the last stretch toward the end of the semester, but for some UB students, it is a month of bearded faces and raising awareness of men’s health issues.

Matthew Kondziela, a junior political science major, said he first heard about ‘No Shave November’ in high school through his favorite baseball team players’ participation. Now, he takes part in the event every year.

“I like the idea of competing with others to see who gets the most extravagant facial hair,” he said. “The month of November is now a holiday in its own sense for some of us.”

The awareness month is called ‘No Shave November’ or Movember, depending on how one grows hair and where they donate the funds. ‘No Shave November’ refers to growing facial or body hair whereas Movember is only letting mustaches grow. Both events successfully raised money and awareness toward men’s health issues, like prostate cancer locally and globally.

Movember is a term coined by Australians in 1999 during a pub gathering to grow moustaches and raise money for charities that promote men’s health. The 80 men initiated the event with the slogan “Growing whiskers for whiskers.” It not only became a national phenomenon, but also successfully spread the idea globally and raised $174 million.

In 2009, Rebecca Hill and Bret Ringdahl started a Facebook group to raise funds for cancer by suggesting people donate the money they would normally spend on shaving, waxing and grooming in a month. This was the start of ‘No Shave November.’

The non-profit organization eventually joined forces with American Cancer Society in 2013.

Bryan Padua, a junior computer engineering major, said many people in his friend circle participate in ‘No Shave November’ but don’t know the reason behind it.

He said campaigns like the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) ice bucket challenge and ‘No Shave November’ can be effective and fun ways to direct people’s attentions to certain causes. But he said more has to be done to educate people about these issues.

“We see commercials promoting breast cancer awareness and we also see NFL players wearing pink shirts to support this cause,” Padua said. “But most of us don’t know ‘No Shave November’ is about reminding men about health risks that can affect them, because it’s an event that gains popularity once a year.”

Men’s health advocacy groups need to work more on publicity to educate people on the main reasons behind these campaigns, Padua said.

“It would be great if organizations find more ways to promote men’s health,” Padua said.

Tim Gigante, a senior economics major, said he has been participating in the event for the past three to four years and really enjoys the experience.

“I started to grow my beard before November this year and I plan on keeping it for at least the rest of winter,” Gigante said. “Not only do I tend to get a lot of compliments on it, but having a beard really helps during Buffalo winters, too.”

Gigante said he likes the fact that he is able to grow a beard, and being able to help raise awareness about cancer by doing so makes it even better.

Brandon Noga, a senior sociology major, said he read about ‘No Shave November’ online and wanted to contribute to the cause.

“I am a college student, so there is no any expectations to have a clean shaved face,” he said. “But if I was at a professional setting, it could be difficult to participate as there might be an expectation or even a requirement for a clean shaved face.”

While some companies have strict rules about facial hair that don’t allow workers to participate, some companies, like Morgan Stanley, allow their staff to participate and raise funds for ‘No Shave November.’

Noga said ‘No Shave November’ is a good reason to save time from shaving and take a break from razor burns in this cold weather for a month while raising awareness for men’s health issues.

He said November is a good time to remind all men to visit their physicians and be more proactive about preventative care.

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