Movember – “Changing the Face of Men’s Health”

As you walk around this month you might notice an unusual amount of guys proudly sporting moustaches and you might wonder why. Why does the glorious “Mo” make a comeback each November? Before you might stop and give these brave chaps disapproving looks let me satisfy your lingering sense of puzzlement. “Movember” as it is affectionately known is an annual, month-long event that promotes the growing of moustaches during November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other health concerns such as depression. The movement as we know it now originated in 2004 in Melbourne, Australia. Like most great stories concerning men the story of Movember began in a pub where a group of friends, for whatever reason, figured that the best way to raise
awareness for men’s health was through ‘changing the face’ of it entirely. They decided that in order to do so they had to encourage men to grow and maintain
moustaches for the whole of November to raise money for charity. The Movember movement has since spread beyond Australia & New Zealand and has raised over $174 million USD worldwide, not bad.

Whilst Movember is hugely prolific in around the world the UK still cannot get over the stigma that the glorious ‘Mo’ seems to have. The UK ranks second in the world for “Movember” fund raising, only just behind Canada, but still we seem to look down on its’ participants with disdain. Why? Did Hitler, Stalin, and male porn stars in the 80’s ruin it for everyone? Is there a sinister correlation between moustaches and seedy individuals/child molesters? Or do women just hate kissing guys with Mo’s? If it is raising money for good causes why do people look down on guys that take part? Having taken part in Movember in both New Zealand and here in the UK I feel I can bring some perspective to this issue.

It is widely known that men in the Tasman region are incredibly red-blooded and so laid back that they might as well be horizontal, and frankly don’t get precious about something as trivial as facial hair. During my travels around the Tasman coverage for Movember was very positive and I distinctly remember many of my friends’ partners urging them to take part, that degree of support from “Mo Sistas” is almost unheard of over here. Are Englishmen simply too precious about something as trivial as a moustache and unwilling to consider that the media depiction of what is ‘Manly’ in today’s world might well be wrong? Thankfully household name celebrities have flown in the face of this media adversity and have worn Mo’s, Daniel Craig more recently rocked one like a boss in Skyfall!
I think there also a thread of hypocrisy embedded in our culture which unfairly damns the ‘tache’. Think about it; why is it men are looked down on for wearing Mo’s just because our fathers and their generation wore them before us? Women on the other hand are encouraged to groom themselves in ways reminiscent of their mothers, ways that remind us guys of our mothers all the time… and that doesn’t seem to bother society in the slightest. If anything men wearing Mo’s today should be respected for honoring their fathers and grandfathers traditions. Part of me thinks that in itself might be the problem, that increasing numbers of men are suffering from that fear of looking into the mirror and seeing their fathers looking back at them.

No matter how critics approach it there is no getting around the fact that Movember raises huge sums of charity money each year, money that goes towards causes that do not get as much limelight as others. Some of the greatest figures in history have worn moustaches; Hulk Hogan, Frank Zappa, Albert Einstein, and Errol Flynn to just name a few. It is heartening to see the initial hostility towards Movember melting, paving the way for similar causes such as the fledgling Decembrow, if you’re a woman and still reading this look that up! For guys that are uncertain about taking part in Movember, please consider it; its’ a great chance to make a difference by paying tribute to the legendary moustache, not taking yourself seriously for a month and generally having a good time!







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