The month of November marks the beginning of a cornucopia of traditions including Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month. Here at Northwestern, we observe another long-standing university tradition: No-Shave November.
According to some NW students, No-Shave November has been observed for as long as anyone can remember. Allowing different opportunities for men and women to participate, students voluntarily forsake the razor in favor of the natural, sometimes culturally unacceptable, practice of letting the peach fuzz grow.
For men, the product of the month-long endeavor is one of communal pride and allows for some healthy competition among floor mates and friends. It’s a chance to embrace their follicles before getting into the more stringent appearance-oriented work world.
“It’s fun to see guys grow beards, even those who thought they couldn’t. It’s especially fun because we’re all doing this together, in solidarity, in community,” said Seth Herning.
For Alex Boston, the adventure begins before the month does.
“I feel some people have an unfair advantage,” he said. “For example, Isaac Hendricks. So I have to get a head start.”
For NW women, the no-shave traditions also defy the calendar limits. Beginning after Fall Break and continuing until Thanksgiving, the female version is aptly referred to as No-Shave Noctober and presents its own sources of bonding and new experiences.
According to Fern RD, Lisa Barber, “The idea for No-Shave Noctober and the waxing party started at the end of a conversation on disciplines I was having with some students. We challenged the women in Fern to not shave their legs for the month.” Barber continued, “Then we further challenged them to try waxing their legs. We use all homemade wax and t-shirts for strips.“
In similar fashion to No-Shave Noctober, women at NW participate in another unique November tradition: Natural Beauty Week.
“Natural Beauty Week started with the D-group leaders four years ago. They wanted to focus on natural beauty and identity. Everyone is challenged to give up a beauty ritual for the week,” Barber said. For some this meant giving up make-up or hair products or even showering.
Universally, each of these November traditions focuses on issues of identity, highlighting the way culture influences the way people see themselves and others.
As Brett Amiotte said, “I think there is an attempt, for even just a moment, to say, ‘We’re not going to care what the world thinks, we’re just going to let it go.’”