Commentary: Men rediscover razor’s edge

BY SAM LANE | DECEMBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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It sparks some hairy debates.

My dad hates it, my mom is ambivalent, and everyone else is either impressed or turned off.

But regardless of others’ thoughts and comments on my now-impervious facial hair, I will have bittersweet feelings today as I lift a Gillette Mach3 Turbo blade to my gloriously itchy “Novembeard.”

For the last month, students and business professionals alike have put away their razors in observance of the growing tradition known as “No Shave November.”

In high school, at about the same time I first recognized my uncanny ability to sprout facial hair at remarkable speeds, my friends informed me about the annual event celebrating beards, laziness, and even masculinity.

No Shave November has provided me, and any participant worldwide, the opportunity to drop my several-times-a-week shaving habit in favor of a more relaxing and less time consuming method of beard maintenance.

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There are a number of documented “no shave” events throughout history, but most point to the formation of “Movember” as the start of the “No Shave November” phenomenon.

In 2003, a small group of men in Melbourne, Australia, came up with the idea for Movember after discussing ’80s fashion, according to the Movember website. The group decided to bring the “Mo,” an Australian term for mustache, back to popular culture.

However, beyond the upper-lip scruff, these “Mo Bros” justified their growth through the establishment of a charitable organization.

Now, thanks to a partnership with Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign — a foundation aimed at uniting people affected by cancer — those who participate in Movember help raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research.

If you ask me, not shaving is a simple way to raise money.

No Shave November, and the Movember from which it likely stemmed, is based on a simple set of rules. According to a former University of Minnesota-Duluth student’s website called “Noshavember,” participants are to shave cleanly on Oct. 31 and resist shaving for the entire month of November.

Some, including my own brother, have taken shots at my messy beard, calling me names ranging from Moses to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. My cousin, a UI freshman who is almost completely unable to grow facial hair, has asked if birds live in my beard or if I’ve ever held a sign on the street asking for money.

Despite this criticism, however, my determination to grow the most robust beard possible has not faltered.

And it shows.

In fact, Ryan Waterhouse, a fellow Novembeard-er, said my beard’s “lookin’ really good.”

Waterhouse, who participated in No Shave November for the first time this year, said he’s “growing attached” and will probably only trim his beard today. He claims his beard is better than a lot of his friends’. The freedom of college has allowed him to take the month off from shaving, the freshman said.

“It takes up time I don’t have,” Waterhouse said.

So today, as specks of facial hair flow through the nation’s drains, I hope everyone will recognize the magnitude of our conquest: We have outlasted No Shave November.

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