This is reverence and awareness that is intertwined and inspiring. It is one that has evolved into a global movement that is a steadfast gesture of respect and honor for Wes Bonny, a man who lost his life to melanoma at the age of 26. At his wake, a group of his friends committed themselves to start something to encourage people to get more regular skin checks—a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to early detection of melanoma, one of the deadliest cancers in the world, killing over 46,000 people a year.
At the helm of the Beard Season ship is Jimmy Niggles, one of Wes Bonny’s friends who has devoted his time and the growth of his own facial follicles to lead tens of thousands of Beard Season Ambassadors to help spread the Beard Season message. These fine individuals have beards of various degrees, fullness, and length, some even to epic proportions, not because it’s “cool” or “hip” or because they’re a millennial and like to use vintage typewriters. Oh no, these beards facilitate as a conversation starter to encourage others to go and get checked for melanoma.
Because let’s face it, when you see someone with a beard, more importantly, an impressive and well-trimmed and styled beard, you can’t resist yourself to comment on it. I do it all the time, and I’ve even seen Justine do it on a number of occasions, and we’ve been known to stalk men with impressive beards at events and in public. We enjoy and like to praise a good beard when we see them. And let me tell you this, beards surround us. Not only do both our husbands have beards, but we also live in the suburbs of Chicago, which is home to the Chicago Blackhawks who have a devoted following of fans who grow beards during the hockey season and playoffs. Beards are everywhere.
But I’ll say this, I’ve never seen a beard like Jimmy Niggles’ and this story probably wouldn’t even be happening right now if it wasn’t for the renowned photographer Mr. Elbank. While Mr. Elbank was living and working in Sydney, he was shooting an editorial concept on beards for a local magazine. As a result of this project, Mr. Elbank decided to work on a personal photography project centered around beards and started to search and scout those with beards. Through a friend, he met Jimmy Niggles and learned about Beard Season and the importance of getting routine skin checks. Mr. Elbank was so moved by the whole initiative that he started #Project60—60 people with beards photographed to raise awareness for Beard Season on an international level via social media. When Mr. Elbank announced this project, he received over 1,200 applications and those who were chosen were photographed in Mr. Elbank’s Warwickshire home. In no time, thanks to the cult following Mr. Elbank has, #Project60 became a success, and even raised some serious funds through a Kickstarter campaign. The end result was a photograph series of remarkable and striking bearded men including Jimmy Niggles and actor John Hurt, models Ricki Hall and Billy Huxley, and artist Gavin Turk. Included in #Project60 is British bearded woman Harnaam Kaur, who has been growing a beard since the age of 16 after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition which causes excess hair growth. Once these images came to be a reality, a gallery exhibit at the distinguished Somerset House in London gave individuals an opportunity to see these photographs, along with new and unseen photographs shot specially for the exhibit, on a much larger scale.
Mr. Elbank isn’t the only one who believed in Jimmy Niggles and those who helped form Beard Season. Hublot, the luxury Swiss watch company, was the principal sponsor of the Somerset House exhibition. Now you’re probably asking yourself, what do watches and beards have in common? “Everybody knows growing a beard takes time and dedication,” shared Jimmy Niggles in an interview. “But a beard can actually give time, by carrying a message that can lead to the early detection of one of the world’s deadliest cancers. To have Hublot recognize this power and help share it with the world is a truly inspiring relationship, which Mr. Elbank and I thoroughly look forward to building.” Ah yes, now it makes complete sense!
How can you help support Beard Season? There are actually a number of ways you can. The first is quite simple:
Step 1: Grow the beard.
Step 2: Get a skin check.
Step 3: Spread the word.
But what if you can’t grow a beard or if you want to take it to a higher level? In your personal life, you can rally your friends and family members to get involved and grow a beard for a good cause and not because it’s trendy or because it is hockey season or because it pairs well with a man bun and an iced cold-brew coffee. And if you already have a beard (or a beard in your life), you can have them become a Beard Season Ambassador. Then anytime someone stops and comments about the beard, you (or they) can have a conversation about getting a skin check that can help save someone’s life.
If you’re a salon pro and want to get behind the Beard Season movement, you have the opportunity to share all the information you just read in this article with them. Think about how many men and women you see on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This information is more than just appointment chit-chat and something to pass the time. It has heart, a mission, an end goal and an opportunity to reduce the amount of lives that are taken each year from melanoma.
Lastly, if you have an extra million bucks just sitting around, you can purchase Jimmy Niggles beard right off his face if you’d like. In all seriousness, Jimmy has launched his Million Dollar Beard campaign and knows that there’s someone out there wanting and willing to purchase this rare and momentous opportunity to own and support the beard behind the movement. Or you can just go to the Beard Season website and purchase a deck of cards or visit Captain Fawcett’s website and get yourself some of the Jimmy Niggles Esq. The Million Dollar Beard Oil and make a beard feel like a million bucks.
For more information about Beard Season, please visit www.beardseason.com.au.