If you think you’ve seen an unusual amount of mustachioed men this month, you’re not just seeing things.
"Movember” is an event that takes place throughout the month of November in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues. Participants have online accounts where people can donate to support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives. They can even have friends rate their mustache.
This year, the campaign is fittingly titled “Movember and Sons” with a catchy slogan to pair: “United We Grow.”
The movement spread to the U.S. in 2006 after initially starting in Australia 9 years ago. Since its humble beginnings (the first year, Australians raised $40,000) it has raised nearly $300 million worldwide. Americans raised $15 million in the U.S. alone last year, putting the hairy stamp of approval on Movember’s popularity.
Following on the heels of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Movember allows men to very visibly show support for the cause.
“In October it’s the pink ribbon, in November it’s the hairy ribbon,” said Ron Donoho, editor of San Diego Bugle. “It really has caught on.”
Donoho has participated in the event since it came to the U.S. in 2006, and said it’s much more popular than in years prior.
“There’s much less need of an explanation now,” he said.
Donoho’s passion for the movement inspired Chance Shay, an account executive at (W)right On Communications, Inc., to being participating three years ago. Shortly after Shay grew his mustache for Movember 2010, his uncle was diagnosed with testicular cancer and died this June.
“It was kind of a shock that hit close to home,” Shay said. “It’s definitely a cause that’s close to my heart….This year more than ever I am passionate about it.”
Shay said he’s been encouraged by his group of friends and family to continue his participation in Movember, but joked his mustache isn’t perfect.
“There’s a reason I don’t have a mustache 11 months out of the year,” he said. “It’s definitely on the creepier side.”
Shay and Donoho shared a few tips for men growing their mustache this month. Here’s what they recommend:
- Try wax. Donoho’s barber said certain kinds of wax can thicken the mustache, making it look a little more MacGyver and a little less pre-teen.
- Approach ‘stache growing with a team. Shay said having a group of people brings in resources and connections that benefit the campaign. Plus if you and a group of friends are all sprouting whiskers, then you’ll feel more comfortable with a little extra fuzz above the lip.
- Use clear shaving gel. Donoho said to maintain the mustache shape, a clear gel will help ensure you don’t shave too much off one side.
- Be persistent. “Stay committed,” said Shay. “For new Mo growers when the mustache is beyond stubble but not big enough to be impressive, days 13 to 20 can be a little rough.” He recommends sticking it out though, as it will help bring awareness to the Movember campaign.
- Don’t worry about it. “You’re kind of stuck with what your face is going to give you,” said Donoho. “That’s one thing that keeps guys from participating; they think they can’t grow a mustache.”
- Create conversation. “This campaign isn’t just an excuse to don a ‘stache,” said Shay. “It’s to make proactive men health decisions more acceptable.”
But there is one downside to Movember for some men.
“My girlfriend absolutely hates it,” Donoho said with a chuckle.
At the end of the month, the “Mo Bros and Sistas” will celebrate with the Gala Parté at Block No. 16 in the Gaslamp District on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.. That’s where dudes will compete in mustache-related competitions, including the coveted title for Man of Movember, which awards a San Diegan with the best mustache.
In all the hair-growing madness, Shay said ultimately the goal of Movember is to spark that conversation between your fellow bros about cancer awareness.
“We’re not wearing mustaches because they look good,” said Shay. “It’s about the contagious enthusiasm, then talking to people about supporting something that affects all men.”
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