Men from the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club pose as mermaids at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic site in this undated handout photo. What started as a dare for a burly Newfoundland man to pose in mermaid flippers has turned into a globally known effort to combat gender stereotypes, and raised more than a half million dollars for charity. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Roth and Ramberg Photography)

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

What started as a dare for a burly Newfoundland man to pose in mermaid flippers has turned into a globally known effort to combat gender stereotypes — and raised more than a half million dollars for charity.

This past weekend, the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL.

That’s the proceeds from the 2019 Merb’ys calendar, which draws its name from ‘mermaid’ and the Newfoundland moniker for ‘buddy.’

The calendar features photos of husky, bearded Newfoundland men posed on the province’s rugged shoreline — wearing just their merman fins and their smiles.

Hasan Hai, the leader of the club, said it all started with a dare in 2017.

“A friend of mine on Facebook had shared a picture of a big bearded fellow dressed as a mermaid. I was kind of known in my friends’ circle as a guy who didn’t shy away from dares or doing fun things that would further community projects and goals,” he said.

“Initially the idea was to maybe get a bunch of people together and maybe take a bunch of pictures poking holes at traditional gender stereotypes and what a ‘real man’ was supposed to look like.”

A month later, they had the 2018 version of the calendar and a demand from around the world that raised more than $300,000 for a local mental health organization.

Hai said they decided to do it again for 2019 and put the call out to charitable organizations, and about 40 applied.

He said they decided to go with Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador because its mandate is much the same as the club in fighting gender stereotypes and “toxic masculinity,” and showing men there’s a healthier way to live their life moving forward.

“Their project was deconstructing masculinity and engaging men in violence prevention, and it kind of checked all the boxes for us. It’s not criticizing men for being men, but breaking down those harmful bits of it and building up the positive ones,” he said.

Hai said Violence Prevention NL will develop programming in communities and also get it translated into the various Indigenous languages found across the province.

But he said with the calendar being sold in 37 countries around the world, the message is reaching many more people.

“The main theme, even without reading the back and understanding the charity we’re supporting, is that people see men being displayed in these positive ways — body positivity, men showing affection and emotion, and just having fun. Emotionally I think people connect with it, and even without telling them what the message is, they get it,” he said.

Hai isn’t sure there will be a 2020 version of the calendar. He said the first two calendars have taken 15 months of work and everyone needs a rest.

However, he said that doesn’t mean they are hanging up their fins for good.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan Rail Trail northern section closure begins next week

This work is a part of the RDNO’s long-term planning and maintenance to ensure the trail remains safe

Fundraiser set up to held 10-year-old Summerland girl with cancer

Danica Yeoman is undergoing treatment at BC Children’s Hospital

Three Kelowna Rockets alumni to suit up in 2020 Stanley Cup Final

Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau will battle Luke Schenn of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Rogers celebrates virtual opening of its new Customer Solution Centre in Kelowna

The centre will bring a total of 350 new jobs to the local economy by 2021

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Fundraiser set up to held 10-year-old Summerland girl with cancer

Danica Yeoman is undergoing treatment at BC Children’s Hospital

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Interior Health reports four new cases of COVID-19

First hospitalization since mid-August announced

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

Clean up effort ongoing after 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge

Most Read