No Shave November: Hairy movement raises awareness, funds for men’s health issues

Thomas “Tj” Payzant, junior in business economics, shaves on Oct. 30 prior to “Movember,” a month that raises awareness for men’s health disease by having men grow out their facial hair for the entire month of November. “Movember” officially begins on Nov. 1 and upon commencement, participants use all of the funds that would ordinarily go toward grooming supplies, instead go toward a charitable donation.

Richard Martinez

Tj Payzant, junior in business economics, puts down his razor and runs his hands over his face. Feeling his smooth skin, he knows this will be the last time he picks up another razor for 30 days.

November is a month of various occasions. Falling leaves and Thanksgiving come to mind, but many forget another tradition, a month-long shaving boycott affectionately known as “No Shave November,” which pays homage to men’s health awareness.

Also referred to as “Movember,” charities and organizations use the month to draw awareness to several diseases that affect men like prostate and testicular cancers. After pledging to not shave for the month, participants donate the money that would ordinarily go toward grooming supplies to a charity.

Some groups offer additional rules and guidelines making the month-long fundraiser more of a competition.

“If I raise over $150 in pledges, I’ll have to bleach my mustache,” Payzant said. “It’s ridiculous, but that’s the point. It draws attention and therefore creates that conversation.”

Events like Movember are not meant to serve as a testament among men to see who can grow the most facial hair. Instead, the origins behind the month stem from men’s health awareness.

The Iowa State greek community has planned and organized a campus-wide Movember team to create awareness and raise funds among participants for the Movember Foundation. The Interfraternity Council rallied men who would be willing to take the month-long challenge and offered rewards to individuals who are the most active.

“I was in my office one day when [Billy Boulden, director of Greek Affairs] brought up the idea if we could do a greek-wide No Shave November,” said Sam Kammermeier, council president. “It was like a light bulb going off. It wasn’t only something that would [be received] really well, but people on campus already participate in the tradition in some shape or form.”

The Movember Foundation, for which Iowa State greeks are fundraising, is an international organization that funds programs that provide support or services for the advancement of men’s health. In the United States, these include the Prostate Cancer Foundation, True NTH and the Livestrong Foundation.

“Seeking to change the face of men’s health is an ambitious challenge,” said Paul Villanti, executive director of programs for the Movember Foundation. “[We are] committed to tackling and succeeding through the programs we invest in around the world.”

The foundation aims to draw attention to prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues like depression. Men are often reluctant to seek medical attention or are unaware of the warning signs of some of these serious diseases because of the stigmas surrounding these illnesses. 

Iowa State’s team has around 60 members registered on the Movember Foundation’s website with over $1,300 raised, making them the 145th ranked team in the nation.

“We’ve currently set a tentative goal of $10,000 as a team for the month of November,” Kammermeier said. “We were a tenth of the way there with around a thousand dollars before the month even started, so we’re optimistic.”

Members of the greek community have encouraged others to take the month-long pledge. Sam Wanzenried, president of Theta Chi fraternity, was enthusiastic in getting several chapter members involved.

“I got fired up because I saw the importance of having that conversation of men’s health issues, especially when they’re not at the forefront unlike other diseases,” Wanzenried said. “[No Shave November] gives people a good way to push people out of their comfort zone. I thought getting some of our guys to participate would be a great way to attract attention for a cause in a simple way.”

While the council has a team registered on the Movember Foundation website, both non-greeks and women are encouraged to participate.

“My motivation is to set an example,” said Boulden, team captain for the council’s Movember team. “I work with many students who are passionate about many things, but I believe we can make a difference.”