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.

Just Posted

Touchstones gala celebrates the great outdoors

Breaking Trail will be held June 1

Richard Hill’s bird photographs at the Nelson library

‘Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay’ is on display through June

Energy efficiency session at the Nelson Public Library

Nelson Hydro customers who are seniors are now eligible for free weatherization upgrades

LETTER: Giveaway items becoming an eyesore

From readers Ron and Diane Baerg

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read