During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men's faces in the U.S. and around the world. With their Mo's, these men are helping raise awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Movember got its start in Melbourne, Australia in 2003.
"A few of the founders were out riding skateboards, having a beer or two, talking about '80's fashion and how the moustache never really came back in vogue. They left that day with a challenge issued. They got about 30 people to do it that year to basically grow a moustache for 30 days," says J.J. Owen who is the Head of Grassroots Engagement for Movember USA.
In 2008 a colleague of J.J.'s mentioned something to him about moustaches and Movember and a short time later he got some friends together and decided to take action.
"My roommate's mom at the time had cancer so we wanted to do something cancer related and we were both facially gifted as far as moustache growth so we were just like 'Let's do this,'" says J.J.
Since it's inception Movember has raised over $300 million and has grown to become a global movement inspiring more than 1.9 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate with formal campaigns all around the world. You may be asking how exactly a moustache is supposed to spark conversation and spread awareness of men's health issues. Well, the theory behind the 'stache is that people will see someone sporting this manly mane and ask them about it which will hopefully then lead to a conversation about the cause. And, that conversation is sometimes very difficult to have.
"It's more important for that guy who's rockin' a moustache who's 20-something, 30-something, to have the talk with their dad or their uncle about men's health. Those guys are the ones that are getting checked for prostate cancer at that moment and that's the conversation that's typically not happening. I've had Mo Bros tell me that their dad's feel like they're protecting them by not telling them," says J.J.
Prostate and testicular cancer were not top of mind for Lee Martineau until it hit home.
"My grandfather had been diagnosed with prostate cancer 12 years ago. When he was, my uncle and father got checked out because when it's in the genes you want to get examined. My uncle had it at the same time so they were both fighting it and treating it and my father did not. Then 8 years later he was getting his annual check-up and then his PSA count was high and went in and he, too, had prostate cancer."
This Movember I will be joining the ranks of the moustachioed man. Yes, I've been blessed with the 'I can grow a massive beard and if I don't trim it on a regular basis I totally look like a hobo', gene. And, yes, I'm pretty sure that growing a moustache will make me look like a freak. That's why my plan was to grow that hobo beard and then trim it into a 'stache but I found out that the rules of Movember are actually pretty strict.
"You grow just a moustache for 30 days. No beards and no goatees because nobody's gonna give you a high five for that. If it connects to the sideburns that's a beard and if it connects under your chin that's a goatee and those are disqualified," says J.J.
So get out there men, and, maybe even some women and grow your Mo big and grow your Mo proud, knowing that you will be one of many Mo Bros and Mo Sistas that will help change the face of men's health.