As someone who hasn’t been clean-shaven in four-and-a-half years, undertaking Movember was something that left me nervous, emotional and with a trembling – yet at the time, still furry – lip.
Not since before I was locked in my room and embroiled in battle with my dissertation had my chin seen the light of day and this was something I was hoping to maintain for as long as possible.
Which is why when it was suggested at work I did my best to hide my face in my coffee and pretend I’d temporarily lost my hearing until the conversation subsided. That was before someone said the words I’d dreaded to hear.
“You’ll do it right, Steve? You can grow one no problem.”
It was true. There was photographic and inescapable evidence that I had the capability to allow hair to appear in and around my mouth and cheeks. But this was something I had cultivated over the period of four years, not four weeks.
Questions started to surface in my mind. How many times would I be IDed at the bar? How many tannoy announcements for lost children would there be while I was the only customer in the store?
Still, the suggestion turned to expectation and expectation turned into submission on my part. I reluctantly agreed.
Part of the reason is obviously that it’s a great cause. As many people know, Movember isn’t just about people sporting some impressive (or embarrassing) facial hair – it exists to raise awareness for men’s issues like prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health.
Another reason is that I don’t do too much for charity – generally the limit of my generosity is an annual Big Issue and offering change to whichever homeless man is outside McDonalds on a Friday night – so I hoped the cold feeling on my face would be combatted by a warm feeling of doing my part for a good cause.
I was also intrigued as to what I would actually look like without a beard. That was probably what settled it.
At first I had fun with the shave, first giving myself questionable handlebars, then some farmer’s mutton chops. After several selfies and inappropriate comments in WhatsApp groups however, I went the whole hog.
It’s a strange feeling looking at a face you’ve not seen for nearly five years. It’s an even stranger feeling when its your own.
It got a mixed reaction from the people around me as well. Some laughed immediately, while others genuinely didn’t notice for about half an hour. A few even said I looked better clean-shaven (these are people I know longer trust).
Now, a week on, I have recovered the amount of upper lip hair normal associated with a 14-year-old eyeing up the Wilkinson Sword.
So, at the end of my first week as a Mo Bro, I thought I’d share some experiences:
- People appreciate your sense of humour; colleagues at work have laugh at lot more at the things I say – sometimes before I’ve even opened my mouth.
- I’ve not been IDed for alcohol, making me seriously question the Challenge 21 policy in South London supermarkets.
- The ladies love it – I’ve noticed some women can’t even look me in the eye, presumably at the risk of blushing at my raw, animal magnetism.
- It’s a lot easier to navigate the tube and getting a seat to myself has become a lot more common. Even better, parents that have seen my moustache have been considerate enough to move their children out of the way to let me pass, often at great speed.
If you enjoyed this and want to donate, you can do so here. Alternatively, if you would rather wait until you’ve seen my facial travesty in a fuller form, come back this time next week!