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Military Movember

Facial Hair's Long, Complicated Relationship with the Armed Forces

Military Movember
Your Facebook pages are probably packed with boasts of "No Shave November" and "Movember," but how did these traditions start, and what's the military's relationship with facial hair?

Every year in November, "No Shave November" & "Movember" make waves in the social media sphere, with 'staches, goatees, beards, and unkempt faces littering your news feed. Why do these trends exist, and how can the military join?

Each of these month-long celebrations aims to raise awareness. No Shave November started as a means to raise money for cancer charities. Since many cancer patients lose their hair during treatment, the movement pledged to not spend any money on shaving and grooming during November, instead opting to donate the money you saved to cancer research and affiliated charities.

Movember focuses on specifically on men's health issues. Whereas No Shave November encourages abstaining from shaving altogether, Movember calls for keeping some hair on the upper lip. Whether it's extravagant, peach-fuzzy, groomed, or frizzled, a mustache in November raises awareness for issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide.



The cool thing about Movember celebrations is our male military community is able to participate. Per Army Grooming standards:

"Males will keep their face clean-shaven when in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Mustaches are permitted; if worn, males will keep mustaches neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy. Mustaches will not present a chopped off or bushy appearance and no portion of the mustache will cover the upper lip line or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corners of the mouth. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and beards are not authorized."

As long as you're keeping your 'stache clean and uniform, if you're in the U.S. service you can raise awareness for men's health issues too! Facial hair regulations vary country to country and have changed throughout history.

For example, in Britain from 1860 through 1916, the British Army required every soldier grow a mustache during their service. There were many trends in different regions of the world. Many Arab nations required their soldiers maintain beards, as bare faces portrayed a lack of manliness. The East India Company's Bombay Army all donned mustaches in the late 1800s too.

Moustaches started to taper out of regulation in during World War I. Trench warfare's brutality made it hard for soldiers to maintain their mustaches, and they also brought the possibility of interfering with gas mask seals.

Though Movember naturally caters towards male participation, No Shave November is gaining traction for women too. To celebrate a month of growing out your hair for health issues and awareness, we encourage you to add some fuzz to protect yourself from the biting winds of the end of 2017.

If you're in the service, make sure you're staying in regulation!