The Month of the Moustache

By Shaun Lalani

Every year, in the month of the first snow, millions of men around the world – some in their thirties and some who get up early – unify and decide to partake in a strange custom which transcends space and time. Yes, I’m talking of course, about the enigmatic tradition that is daylight savings time. Like seriously, why do I have to reset my watch twice a year? Can’t we all just pick a time and stick with it? But while November does beget its fair share of truly silly traditions like daylight sav- ings, it also kickstarts the beautiful month of Movember.

But what exactly is Movember? Is it just a misspelled iteration of the word November? Or is it the celebratory pre- mier to a month of Motown Funk? Or is it – dare I say it – a month dedicated to men for growing bushy, unkempt moustaches? Well, yes and no. Movem- ber is a purposely misspelled iteration of November, every month should be Motown month, and yes, Movem- ber is indeed about letting facial hair flow – but it also about so much more than that. The campaign’s roots can be traced all the way back to 2003 when mates Travis Garone and Luke Slattery joked about bringing the moustache back into fashion. Only 30 men partici- pated in that first edition of Movember, 480 ‘Mo bros’ and ‘Mo sistas” the next, and by 2017, 5.5 million participants had helped raised over $600 million going to charitable causes concerning men’s health, such as prostate and test

ticular cancer research. In particular, it has brought some much needed at- tention to the issue of mental health. In many societies today, masculinity’s close dance with patriarchy has often kept men from seeking out help in fear that they may be labeled as inferior. But the acceptance and conversationalist outlook of the Movember movement had, for the very first time, opened a dialogue for men to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Year after year, the stigma surrounding depression and self-care is dissipating. Men now have access to a plethora of resources, which is in part thanks to Movember and other similar movements such as No Shave November.

However, recent years have seen a de- cline in Movember participation which, in turn, has inhibited funding towards charitable research. This is in large part due to the societal trend of vainful par- ticipation, where people partake in a cause not for the value it aims to create but for the novelty and attention the trend has to offer. And as was the case with many internet trends before it, in- terest in Movember has also begun to feign. With beards becoming the new hot thing, there have been document- ed instances of people refusing to participate on the premise that they’d have to shave their beards clean. While the moustache may be losing its rele- vance, the danger surrounding men’s mental and physical health has not. Despite the existence of a broader

discourse surrounding depression and anxiety, the male suicide rate has been on an uptick, reaching it’s highest point in 2014. It’s clear that significant work still remains to be done. Organizers of men’s health campaigns have contin- ued to keep the issue of self-care at the fore by diversifying their fundraising efforts, asking participants to “Move for Movember”. Only time will tell if the campaign will recapture the fame it had garnered at its peak in 2013.

So this month, how about we really participate in Movember. Make a do- nation. Host an event. Move a muscle. Grow some hair. And if you can’t do any of these things listed here, then talk. Talk to a friend, a family member, a ran- dom stranger on the street for what it’s worth. But talk to them and let them know that this Movember, it’s about hair and self-care. ♦