To Beard or Not to Beard

The month of November is known for a few great things: Thanksgiving, Christmas hopping, hunting season, and the end of the fall harvest. Recently, growing massive beards has been added to that list

Story by Nick Will
Photos Courtesy of Ian Countryman, Mat Voorhees, and Ryan Huling

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Guitarist Ian Countryman of "Crown of Lions" documented his beard, and even shaved it into a moustache at the end of the month.

November has come and gone, and with November, came Noshember. Men grow out their beards in a mad dash to impress the ladies, or grow the best tufts they can. Maybe the growth is to keep warm, or maybe they have a different cause. But where did this movement come from? And why are beards suddenly springing up all over the United States?  

“No-Shave-November”, or “Noshember” began in Australia with a movement called “Movember.” Movember started in 2004 as an awareness campaign for pancreatic cancer, coinciding with November being the month of pancreatic cancer awareness. During Movember, men were urged to grow their moustaches out and spread the word about the movement and what it meant.

The movement found its way to the United States, where it was changed into No-Shave-November. It was still used for the same purpose, only now men were urged to grow beards in support of pancreatic cancer awareness, as well as various other issues including chronic depression.

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Mat Voorhees, guitarist of "A Candlelit Dinner" sported this gnarly beard last year for Noshember.

In the last few years though, the meaning has been lost to the general public. People now seem to be growing beards just for the sake of growing them. The general rule still remains the same—don’t shave at all during the month of November.

Ian Countryman, guitarist for “Crown of Lions”, a Plattsburgh hardcore band, didn’t know about the meaning behind the movement. “I know that the main rule is not to shave, trim, or wax... that you can participate for as long as you'd like, even it means not shaving from the beginning of one November to the beginning of the next,” Countryman says.

Mat Voorhees, guitarist for Plattsburgh’s “A Candle Lit Dinner,” was just as much in the dark. “I just always grow my beard. I like to consider myself a beard connoisseur,” Voorhees says.

Neither of the guitarists really had any cause behind growing their beards. “Seeing as I rarely have a beard during the year, having one during a month dedicated to having one, I definitely feel empowered and unique,” Countryman says. Voorhees commented that he grows his beard for personal pleasure. “The ladies dig it,” he says.

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Even Girls can praticipate with Grow Your Own Fur. Peta offers free moustache stickers through their website to support the cause.

Recently, Noshember was adopted by Peta2, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ youth division, for their latest anti-fur campaign. “Grow Your Own Fur” was launched in November, and according to Ryan Huling, Assistant Manager of College Campaigns for Peta2, 130,000 people have signed the pledge to be fur-free.

“We've found that people love any excuse they can get to rock a 'stache for a cause.” Huling says. “We're giving young people an easy, effective, and fun way to speak up for animals.” Peta2’s use of No-Shave-November is a great new application for a movement that has lost its meaning.

No-Shave-November is also a favorite among hunters, who at times will not shave at all during the hunting season. Some snowboarders have also jumped on the band wagon. Mark Altwerger, a SUNY Plattsburgh student and snowboarder, participated in Noshember this year. “I’ve heard it called Novembeard,” Altwerger jokes. “I kinda just don’t shave. I don’t know. It’s winter; it warms my face and keeps the snow off my face when I’m snowboarding.”


What do you think of No-Shave-November?

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