The problem with Movember

Hallie O'Rourke, Editor-in-Chief

Flaws of the Movember cancer-awareness campaign become apparent as the month’s festivities begin.

The popularity of lumberjack-esque facial hair seems to be a trend that returns each fall, most notably during November. This can be due to Movember, or No-Shave November, during which men across the globe pledge to put down their razors and let their facial hair grow wild and free. A fun tradition for many, the month also has a philanthropic background to it. In 2003, the Movember foundation was created, which uses the month to raise awareness about a variety of men’s health issues. Even with this purpose, some are still unaware of the charities the month claims to support.

“[People] probably [don’t know about the men’s health issues]. They just see No-Shave November as a thing, like ‘Oh, I don’t have to shave.’ They don’t really know the meaning behind it,” senior Gustavo Sagastume said.

This mindset seems to be common across participants, especially at the high school level. This raises concern about the purpose of the month: Is it really to support men’s health issues? Or was that just an afterthought?

The very fact that the Movember foundation was created after the trend had already begun only furthers this notion. It appears that some people just decided that it would be a good idea to use this as a way to gain money for charity, but that isn’t the main focus for many others.

Another issue that arises with Movember is the toxic idea of masculinity that can result from the month’s practices. For those who are wholeheartedly putting down the razor for men’s health issues, their motives can become clouded by society’s messages about masculinity.

“[Movember] probably [promotes] masculinity [more], because I didn’t even know that No-Shave November had a health issue behind it,” senior Sofia Gonzalez said.

Because of this, the cause behind the month often becomes obscured by the aspects of masculinity included in growing facial hair. Additionally, although some organizations encourage women to participate as well, it is still somewhat taboo in our society for women to openly refuse to shave. An organization based on calls for “manly men” to support the cause and fund the Prostate Cancer Foundation. With this specific call to action, it can be difficult for those who do not classify themselves as “manly” to participate. With these stigmas around them, Movember seems to perpetuate masculinity more than charitable causes, and it excludes those who can’t or prefer not to grow facial hair.

Although Movember appears to be a misguided health campaign, it can still be a fun activity in which to participate.

“I do it because it’s fun. I learned last year that it’s actually to support some men’s health issues,” Sagastume said.

As this month commences, participants should be mindful of the flaws of this campaign, but continue to enjoy their month of facial hair freedom, and support a men’s health organization.