Have you noticed a large number of men growing out-of-control beards and mustaches this month? Mustaches adorning logos on store windows and ads everywhere, and faux mustaches everywhere from car bumpers to straws? You might even see women dressing up with fake mustaches! So why the sudden focus on cultivating creative facial hair? Once again, Movember is upon us, a term coined from combining the words “moustache” and “November,” also called no-shave November. Just like October has widely been accepted as Breast Cancer Awareness month with a pink ribbon as its symbol, Movember promotes men’s health issues in the month of November, but its all about mustaches.
The main focus of this month-long charity and awareness push is to curb prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental illness, and other health problems common to men, with a stated goal of “Changing the face of men’s health.”
And changing faces they are, not entirely for the better, though it’s definitely entertaining. It’s now the custom to grow the most audacious, crazy mustache you can during this month to show support.
However, unlike Breast Cancer Awareness month, the inspiration started down under, in Australia. In 1999 a news story aired about a group of young men who were growing their mustaches during the month of November to raise money for charity, an idea they came up with one night in a pub (where most good ideas are hatched.) The Movember crew started with 80 men that year and grew every year, soon organizing as the Movember Foundation in 2003.
By 2007 the movement expanded to Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, and even these United States. The Movember Foundation has gone on to raise $174 million all over the world for health causes. In 2012 alone, 1.1 million people signed up to participate, raising over $95 million dollars, a lot of cash for the ‘stache!
No-Shave November, is an all together different event and organization, encouraging people to donate what they would otherwise spend on hair grooming to the American Cancer Society. Instead of promoting wild mustaches, No-Shave November encourages men to go au natural and let their beards grow wild. It also encourages women to skip shaving their legs for the cause. No-Shave November was founded as a Facebook group in 2009 but just started partnering with the American Cancer Society last year.
Aside from the money, Movember is all about on promoting cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, ultimately reducing preventable deaths. In addition to getting an annual check-up, the Movember Foundation wants men to be aware of any family history of cancer and to adopt healthier lifestyles.
The month-long celebration for health even hosts a search for the “International Man of Movember,” there own facial hair Miss Universe, though instead of a swimsuit competition it’s all about the crazy facial hair creations – and how involved you are with those charities. Contests are held all over the world to select 21 national winners, who are voted on by judges and fans so one International Man of Movember can be coronated.
Supporters are called “Mo Bros,” and in the U.S. have included notables like Matt Leinart, Snoop Dog, George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks, UFC Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, and others. Mo Bros host teams, events, concerts, social media connections, style guides, and even have Mo Sisters to help support them!
For more information, go to the U.S. Movember Foundation's website.