No-Shave November: remember the reason

Category:  Opinions
Friday, November 15th, 2019 at 11:03 AM

As 2019 has transitioned from summer to fall, we have quickly arrived at November.

When thinking “November,” what comes to mind? Thanksgiving, football and autumnal merriment, perhaps. For others, November also has them putting down the shaver and razors to participate in the ever-popular “No-Shave November.


Many use this time to let their facial hair grow wild, while sharing pictures of their journeys on all social media to the delight of family, friends and fellow participants. However, rarely do we recall the true purpose of the event.

According to their website: “No-Shave November has been a tradition for many years, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2009 that members of the Chicagoland Hill family decided to use it as a means to raise money for charity. It was a project that held special meaning to the eight Hill children after their father, Matthew Hill, passed away from colon cancer in November 2007.”

Their website further explains their objectives: “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.” To date, they have raised approximately $2 million.

While these contributions cannot be overlooked, and it’s certainly up to each person individually whether they wish to donate or support the cause, it seems that the fundamental goal of the event is lost on the general public. Considering this is, at the very least, a nationwide trend, the mission of No-Shave November has been largely ignored, interpreted as yet another social internet trend.

This brings to mind another event that took the world by storm: the ALS related “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Back in the summer of 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge involved participants filling cups, buckets and any manner of containers with ice water, while then dumping it on themselves and friends. Filming the event for various social media, the soaked individuals in the video then challenged their friends and family to do the same.

People will do virtually anything if the word “challenge” is involved (see “Cinnamon Challenge,” or any spicy food challenges), and this held true for this particular event.

However, as a seemingly one-time-only fad, this challenge exploded in a way that No-Shave November did not, and the results were staggering.
Per The ALS Association website: “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a tremendous event in our Association’s history, raising $115 million in the summer of 2014. Not only did it bring awareness to this devastating disease, it importantly spurred a huge increase in our research budget. Since the IBC, we have committed over $96.4 million toward our mission, including over $84 million in research projects.”

People on the internet have such a short attention span, so it makes sense why this event did so well; with the goal present and on the minds of the participants, many donations were made to help fight ALS.

It was only downhill from there, unfortunately.

While people still donate to help ALS, subsequent attempts to revive the challenge and again capture everyone’s attention have not been nearly as successful or publicized.

Normalized and overplayed on television, the ALS challenge faded into memory and out of the public eye, similar to more frivolous trends such as “The dress” debate and hundreds of memes through the years.

The same can be said for No-Shave November.

It has become a tradition for some people every November, and while the no-shaving portion is religiously observed, the cancer donation part of the equation is seemingly omitted.

No one can force you to do anything, but if you’re participating in No-Shave November, try to remember the reason it was started: to raise awareness and fight cancer. It’s all well and good to stop shaving for a month, but take the time to consider the lives at stake, and in the spirit of giving, contribute to a worthy cause.

You can donate and support No-Shave November at: no-shave.org/donate

Tags: charity

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