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

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — 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.

Just Posted

Everything from coffee makers to coats in latest Canada Games sale

Sale runs 1 to 7 p.m. at Games office at Bower Place mall

Town of Sylvan Lake has big ideas for lakeshore

Day mooring docks wanted but first water licence needed from province

Red Deer business moves away from overdose prevention site

At least one Red Deer business has moved away from the temporary… Continue reading

Canada Revenue Agency tax services back online after ‘hardware’ problems

OTTAWA — The websites Canadians use to file their taxes online were… Continue reading

Roof structures failed before Radiohead stage came down, inquest hears

TORONTO — Metal structures meant to hold a roof over a stage… Continue reading

Opinion: Business tax relief is a sound idea

NDP leader should avoid picking winners and losers

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal 2-1

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey… Continue reading

Canadian men’s soccer squad off to Gold Cup with 4-1 win over French Guiana

VANCOUER, B.C. — Canada’s men’s soccer team is looking to the future… Continue reading

Inquest into fatal Radiohead stage collapse set to get underway in Toronto

TORONTO — An inquest is set to get underway today into the… Continue reading

The Latest: Streisand apologizes for Jackson comments

NEW YORK — The Latest on Barbra Streisand’s comments about the sexual… Continue reading

Pricey Titanic wreck tours hope to bring new life to a century-old story

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists with money in the bank have… Continue reading

Most Read