Gentlemen, start your ‘staches.
Melbourne, Australia, 2003 — two men have a conversation in which they decide the mustache has been forgotten. In an attempt to revive the ‘stache, they round up a group of 30 people and commit to grow out their mustaches for an entire month, hereby instating the first ever Movember. The following year, the group decides to expand their efforts and use their mustaches to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. About 450 people participate and $54,000 is raised.
Nearly a decade later, what started out as a meaningless fashion stunt has escalated into a worldwide awareness campaign for men’s health.
Here’s how it works:
On Nov. 1, participants shave off all facial hair in preparation for the cumbersome journey ahead. Upon transforming their faces into clean-shaven canvases for men’s health, it’s on your marks…get set…grow!
Participants then proceed to grow out their facial hair, specifically mustaches, for the entire month of what was formerly known as November. While their ‘staches raise awareness for different men’s health issues, emphasizing testicular and prostate cancers, participants are encouraged to raise funds as well. Those brave enough to take on this hairy challenge are referred to as “mo-bros.”
Not every mustache, you see, belongs to a mo-bro. Those who are serious about giving their facial hair a purpose register online. Here, individual participants or teams can raise support, upload pictures and see how other mo-bros and mo-sistas are doing around the world. This site has everything you need to know in order to be a mo-bro including fundraising tips, merchandise, other ways to get involved and links to the organizations that benefit from this mustache mania.
Brett Barlow is team captain for his class at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine – the UMMC SOMobros ’16. “It’s a big deal at our med school,” said Barlow. “It’s a lot of fun, and as future doctors health is an important thing to us. Male cancer doesn’t quite get the publicity that female-specific cancers do, so a lot of men don’t know about the measures they can be taking to monitor their health.”
Barlow thinks the campaign has been effective thus far, and there is evidence to support his opinion. According to the Movemer website, more than 854,000 mo-bros and mo-sistas around the world got on board last year, raising $126.3 million.
Why are so many people willing to get aboard the “mo-boat”?
Recent health trends place a great emphasis on preventative medicine. “If you can detect cancer early then the prognosis is incredibly better than catching it late,” said Barlow. “A lot of men aren’t aware of self checks for testicular cancer or that they should be getting prostate exams later in life. While some people question the motives and effectiveness of “awareness” groups in social issues, there is no doubt awareness really can make a difference in health issues. The more people are aware of their bodies and are on the look out for disease, the more likely these problems will be caught within a window where they are treatable.”
So whether it’s by grooming your ‘stache or supporting someone else’s, anyone can be a part of the trendy campaign that is changing the face of men’s health.
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