November is good for a lot of things — Thanksgiving feasts, foliage watching, early holiday shopping.

But for many, the month also marks a time to put down their razors, break out the beard combs and grow those beautiful whiskers for a cause.

Movember, a foundation and initiative dedicated to tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, encourages participants to grow their moustaches to raise awareness about men’s health.

The like-minded No-Shave November campaign encourages more or less the same thing, though it welcomes participants of any gender and supports a more general, cancer-based cause.

It’s easy to observe these hairy awareness strategies and question their effectiveness. After all, what could growing out some facial hair for a month really do for a behemoth like cancer?

The true impact of these initiatives is indirect. No, beards don’t cure cancer.

But it turns out they’re real good at getting people talking about it.

Much of what makes these programs so effective is the propensity of facial hair, moustaches particularly so, to be reliable conversation starters.

You see a friend debut a sudden new facial accessory and you’ll probably be inclined to ask about it.

This seemingly innocuous comment opens up the doors to conversation, and participants can now make their friends, colleagues and fellow party guests aware of the issues without the awkwardness of unprompted conversational activism.

The beauty of these programs lie not in their power to raise funds (though they do raise quite a bit) but in their sheer ability to start a conversation.

After all, we’re all a lot safer when we’re well-informed.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of Opinion Editor Shay Cohen, Editor-in-Chief Narda Perez, News Editor Samantha Douty, Life and Entertainment Editor Maxwell Hilliard, Copy Desk Chief Caitlin Sherrill, Sports Reporter Dallas Johnson and News Reporter Jacob Reyes.

Johnson was not present for this editorial meeting.

@utashorthorn

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