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

New Democrats would bring in $25 daycare if re-elected: Notley

Notley said the plan would include adding 13,000 daycare spaces

Seasonal road bans for the County of Stettler declared for Monday

Road bans go into effect Monday, March 25 at 1 p.m.

Supporters rally for Jason Kenney as UCP leader stops in Red Deer

Kenney promises equalization reform, stopping ‘Trudeau-Notley’ payroll hike, trade, economic mobility

Stettler’s Christ King Church a spectacular structure

Great submission to history book committee on Stettler’s Catholic church

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Social media comments continue to dog ranks of United Conservative candidates

Eva Kiryakos was running in Calgary-South East in the April 16 vote

Apple announces its long-awaited streaming TV service

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Trudeau delivers campaign-style speech while introducing candidate Taggart

The Order of British Columbia recipient said she wants to be the people’s voice in Ottawa

15 Canadians on cruise ship that was stranded off Norway; one injured

The cruise ship was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew when it issued a mayday call on Saturday afternoon

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Most Read