A Cause Forgotten: The Neglected Message Behind No Shave November

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Kaetlyn Dembkoski
  Staff Writer

In today’s society, where is the line drawn between serious problems and jokes?  Specifically, where have the meanings behind these problems gone that result in it becoming more casual? More often than not, we find that what used to be a valid issue has taken a place on the back burner and is instead being utilized as a joke.

In the instance of No Shave November, this case is present. No Shave November, much to many people’s surprise, began as combative means to fight against the unwilling factor of cancer patients losing their hair during treatment.

Mainly in regards to men’s health, No Shave November was originally started to get guys to support their fellow men with cancer.

The plan was that if the men without cancer did not shave, then the money that they would have spent on shaving cream, razors, etc. could be sent off to help out the men who did have cancer. In this way, it also rose awareness since the men who were donating had extremely long facial hair to portray their support.

As time passed though, No Shave November changed. What began its roots as a way to get people to publicly display their support eventually morphed into a joke or what might be seen as just a game.

Many people upon hearing the words, “No Shave November,” immediately jump to the nicer and more fun aspect of letting hair grow without needing to groom it rather than the thought of helping promote cancer awareness.

Considering the nearer past, we can see that this is not just specific to No Shave November as a cancer awareness challenge. In particular, one challenge recently took the world by storm was the ALS ice bucket challenge. Much like No Shave November, the ice bucket challenge began strongly connected to its cancer awareness roots.

The ALS ice bucket challenge began as a means to combat the Motor Neurone Disease back in 2014; as the year continued, people began challenging their friends and family to this challenge.

The movement successfully pulled together an audience and raised over one hundred million dollars for the cause. Since then, the movement has died out, still living through the countless YouTube videos and the donations that keep the research properly funded.

Unlike the ALS ice bucket challenge which was fully rooted in its purpose to reach out to people for donations or just to join in, No Shave November has seemingly lost all its original purpose almost entirely. While people do still participate yearly, the purpose and idea behind the motion have all but disappeared, leaving only a shell of a game in its place.

So why continue to do it in the first place?

There are many appealing factors to No Shave November that can even coincide with that of the ALS ice bucket challenge. Whether it be as quick as dumping ice water on your head or as leisurely as growing out your body hair, it is a process that defines the person involved.

Even if they do not follow the original cause, they are still provoking a certain lifestyle by acting in these manners or taking on these ways of life.

These lifestyles are then recognized by the public by means of social media to showcase what exactly the person has done. Much to the same effect as a YouTube video where a person embarks to complete a dumb task, the stories and characteristics portrayed by these actions appeal to society.

People within the context of No Shave November have gone as far as making contests and creating ideas on social media sites such as Pinterest to make the unruly and untrimmed hair look presentable. All of these methods, much to the same effect as putting the videos of one’s progress on YouTube, take the old standards and rules and revamp them to reinvigorate the cause once more.

Thus, despite the fact that the specifics are altered slightly, the purposes are still maintained, even if obscured.

In this regard of forgetting the real reason for these challenges, there are some people who sit around, eagerly awaiting another challenge to put themselves to the test to. As these new challenges arise, the old ones seem to vanish, leaving only fragments of what they used to be. Rarely do we see people return to these “old challenges” once they been retired to the shelves.

Does that make these causes any less important? Absolutely not.

Cancer is such a prominent killer in our society that we cannot afford to allow these awareness raisers to be forgotten. As more and more of these challenges rise to create the prompt for a new fight, the older ones may die out or lose their initial meaning.

If dumping water on our heads and growing our body hair to outrageous amounts has returned to being a normal everyday games, what will be the next challenge that will eventually be pushed aside?



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