‘Movember‘ has forever changed my perception of facial hair. From hereon, whenever I see a man sporting a moustache, I’ll immediately think about my prostate.
As revolting as it may sound that’s the beauty of Movember – an international, month-long celebration of the “mo'” (Australian slang for moustache) held each November to raise funds for prostate cancer research.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Movember’s co-founder and CEO Adam Garone recently. My article on the movement and my discussion with Garone was published last Friday by the Toronto Community News.
The idea was born in 2003 when Garone, who hails from Melbourne, Australia, and a bunch of his beer-swilling buddies collectively, decided to grow moustaches for one month as a gag. Things got a little hairy for him and his mates as girlfriends, wives, or bosses made clear they weren’t entirely enthused by what they were witnessing but that only propelled the former Vodafone exec to find a means to do it annually.
It’s hard to believe such a silly, simple male-bonding stunt would ultimately grow to become an international means of raising funds for and awareness of prostate cancer research. But last year, Movember raised an estimated $2.4 million for prostate cancer research in Canada and more than US$30 million globally.
“Women, for breast cancer, created a bridge and that bridge was the pink ribbon and the pink campaign . . . in a strange way, the moustache is our ribbon,” Garone explained.
In fact, the young man took the initiative seriously enough while enrolled in the Fundraising and Volunteer program at Humber College in Toronto that he landed himself a job with Prostate Cancer Canada as the Movember Assistant, Big Mo On Campus. Loo is now responsible for running the organization’s national campus campaign that encourages college and university students to get involved with the Movember movement.
“It’s true most causes have a ribbon but with Movember you have the hairy ribbon and it’s something that stands out and it is different,” he said. “Our generation; our fathers and uncles, all had moustaches . . . I looked at it as an opportunity to emulate my father a little bit and I think that speaks to a lot of young guys too.”
Evidently it can also be an intimidating affair.
“You don’t see (moustaches) nowadays on younger men . . . it’s a challenge to go through with it. I remember on the first day of Movember last year I was pretty hesitant. But I think that’s the thing: it’s something I’ve always thought of doing because I wanted to see what it looked like,” he remarked. “Now that I’ve done it once, I look forward to doing it every year.”
Loo too confessed his fiancée isn’t a fan of big, bushy moustaches. But she’s accepting of his hairy maw for a 30-day period.
“She’s not thrilled about it but she understands the significance of it for me,” he said, the emotion in his voice rising. “She’s happy to see it go at the end of the month . . . if I could raise the right amount of money, I’d wear it until my wedding day but I’d have to shave it off on that day.”
The inquisitive masses won’t come charging out of the bush (no pun intended) to ask questions about that hairy ribbon necessarily but they will stare. Moreover, Loo said thanks to the facial hair, they’ll listen to what you have to say.
“I always approach people and say ‘I noticed you weren’t expecting me to have this moustache but let me tell you why I have it’,” he said, adding men aged 45 years or older should be getting their prostates checked annually. If caught early, prostate cancer can be beaten.
Personally, I’m a fan of the Fu Manchu moustache (or the style demonstrated in the photo above by Toronto-based singer/songwriter Andrew Masse). But I’m not the type to sport facial hair. It’d take yours truly more than 30 days to grow something respectable and even then I’d probably end up looking like Cliff Clavin at best. So I’ll donate cash instead. But if you can, get growing! Just don’t forget to register at Movember.com.