A single glance at your Facebook feed today and you’ll know: It’s November 1st, also known as the dawn of Movember, that month-long campaign where guys around the world grow mustaches in the name of men’s health.
To the chagrin of women everywhere, otherwise attractive men turn into strange, creepier versions of their former clean-shaven selves, usually documenting their lip worm’s growth on any social media platforms they can. Lucky us, we get to watch them grow.
The campaign has gone from a hip, underground effort to a full-on mainstream movement: Last year, Canada had 245,000 moustache growing participants, who raised a staggering $42 million for prostate cancer research.
Whenever I grumble about Movember, which I do loudly and often this time of year, I get the same passionate response to silence my hate. It’s for a good cause, goshdarnit. It unites men everywhere, brings awareness to prevention, and raises a lot of money for research.
But the argument has been made that the deadliest cancers - the really unsexy ones, like pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal - receive the fewest donations. Prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers, and perhaps our dollars would be better spent elsewhere.
To its credit, this year the Movember movement will divide its donations - 60 per cent prostate cancer research, 40 per cent male mental health initiatives (the latter, in my opinion, needs real immediate awareness).
Still, I can’t help but be irked. How many moustache growers actually stop to talk about men’s health issues? Is a man with a moustache supposed to be an informed ambassador?
I know they’re tongue-in-cheek, and yes, undeniably adorable, but Movember posters like this one give the appearance that there’s a real effort here. But let’s be absolutely clear. The effort, the growth of facial hair (!), is the lack of basic facial maintenance.
Call me a fundraising snob, but I train for a handful of races each year for cancer research and victims. While I’m climbing the evil, vicious hill in the last leg of the Harry’s Spring Run Off, which benefits prostate cancer, and want to quit, I think of those close to me who have beaten the disease or are battling it. The hill is absolutely nothing compared to the struggles the men I love are facing.
But, yes, I know money raised for any form of cancer, no matter the means, can’t be bad.
Here’s the thing: I can name about a dozen men last year who grew a mo’, bragged about their offputting ‘staches, attended Movember parties and posted countless Facebook photos of their pervy facial additions - but didn’t raise a cent. Even worse, about half of those guys didn’t know they were supposed to raise money.
I actually heard this conversation at the end of last Movember:
“Yo, man, cool ‘stache. How much money did you raise?”
“Thanks, bro. I just grew it for kicks - it’s Movember, everyone does.”
Which raises the question, does asking people to do something as silly as grow hair trivialize the real, scary issues the Movember movement is trying to elevate?