Each fall, millions of men around the world engage in a battle of grit and determination, with the very essence of their masculinity on the line; a contest to both raise awareness and broadcast the power of male virility to the world. I am speaking of course, of Movember, the annual celebration of moustaches and all things facial hair. Each year, men from all corners of the world will put down their straight razor blades for a few weeks and let their shaving cream canisters gather dust in the bathroom cupboard. Moustaches, goatees, muttonchops, and, for those who are capable, full beards, are all fair game.
It’s a glorious time where society puts the rules aside for a few weeks and warmly embraces facial hair as part of society’s ‘clean’ look, because in the day-to-day lives of many men, facial hair is a big no-no. Professionals such as lawyers, doctors, financial professionals, consultants, accountants, and virtually any corporate worker has traditionally shunned facial hair – largely due to the weak and cowardly hearts of upper management. Although the times are changing and some facial hair is accepted, the de facto look is still a clean-shaven face - except in November. Even the sad shells of men who would normally encourage their employees to ‘shave’ – that disgusting word – know that when November rolls around, it’s time to back off and let the moustaches rise gloriously from the upper lips of the men in their office.
Now, Movember is a relatively recent phenomenon, and even though most people are somewhat familiar with it by now, many still don’t understand exactly why millions of men have picked one particular month every year to grow out their ‘staches. To better help those who aren’t in-the-know understand, here are 10 facts about Movember you may not have known.
10 #10 Why ‘Movember’?
The question most people have when familiarizing themselves with the concept is ‘why is it named Movember’? Fortunately there’s a very straightforward answer to this question; because it takes place in November, and a ‘mo’ is slang for a moustache. Yup. Sometimes the most obvious answer is also the correct one. There’s no particular meaning behind the word Movember other than the fact that everyone grows out bushy moustaches in the month of November. Moctober or Morch don’t quite have the same ring, do they?
9 #9 What’s the Point?
You mean besides allowing oneself to look like a stallion? As great as it would be to have a month where men grow moustaches for the hell of it, it wouldn’t really carry the same sense of importance if there wasn’t a purpose. The stated goal of Movember is to ‘change the face of men’s health.’ In short, Movember is a massive, globally synchronized advertisement campaign to make men re-think their health, and to encourage them to pay a visit to their doctor – particularly to check for prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health issues. Participants sign up and also actively raise money for the cause, making it much, much more than just a publicity stunt.
8 #8 Movember is Australian
The brainchild (brainchildren?) behind Movember are 100% Australian. The concept came out of a group of young men in Adelaide back in 1999 who decided to grow moustaches and to raise funds that they would donate to a men’s health charity. The initial Movember campaign had around 80 participants, but the concept quickly caught on like wildfire and began to grow exponentially in the following years. By 2006, the movement had reached Europe and North America where it really took off, but it was Australia that did all the heavy lifting in the early days.
7 #7 There’s a Movember NGO
Managing and organizing all that raised money quickly became an arduous task as the movement spread from 80 participants to several hundred thousand. In order to streamline the operation and keep everything as simple as possible, a Movember NGO was created to manage the donations and ensure they made it to the proper destination. The Movember Foundation operates all over the world, and prides itself on being transparent and innovative through its approach at recruiting young men to participate and raise money for the Movember movement.
6 #6 Corporate Sponsors
Once it became apparent that Movember was here to stay, corporate partners lined up to get in on the action and have their brand associated with the movement. Corporations in the business of producing shaving equipment such as Schick were among the first to add their name and financial backing to the Movember Foundation and the Movember movement, but since then many sponsors have added their name to the list of official partners. Harley Davidson, Rickard’s, and Yamaha are just some of the various brands that have associated themselves with the movement. Undoubtedly, moustaches are allowed in those corporate offices come November.
5 #5 Girls Allowed
Movember isn’t a complete bro-fest. Although women aren’t necessarily encouraged to grow their own moustaches – even though some technically could, I guess – Movember encourages participation by women through donations, organizing Movember-themed events, and by pressuring the men in their lives to grow moustaches and raise money. Women who are active in the Movember movement are called ‘Mo Sistas’, as the men who participate are identified as ‘Mo Bros’. Gender isn’t an excuse to slack off this November, so get involved!
4 #4 Celebrity Sponsors
Over the years, more and more celebrities have hopped onto the Movember bandwagon in order to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues. Every November, it’s common to see your favorite actors, musicians and athletes rock the glory of the moustache in front of the cameras and media. There’s a very large list of celebrity men who have used their star-power and reach to influence others, including Snoop Dogg, Brody Jenner, Morgan Spurlock, Foster the People, UFC fighter Frankie Edgar, numerous NHL teams including the Montreal Canadiens and the Anaheim Ducks, and most recently Kurt Russel, who sported some absolutely ferocious ‘muttonchop’ style sideburns recently on the red carpet.
3 #3 The Moscars
The Moscars are essentially exactly what you would assume they would be judging by the name; an award show that celebrates the best moustaches grown during Movember. Participants can register online by sending in a short video (less than 4 minutes) featuring themselves and the moustache they were able to grow. At the end of the month, the Moscar goes to the submission that best exemplified the spirit of the Movember movement and showcased the most epic of moustaches.
2 #2 Movember Has Raised $174 Million
In the relatively short history of Movember, participants have managed to raise $174 million. The amount raised each year has increased rapidly, with $95 million being raised in 2012 alone. The money is used to invest in a wide variety of projects and foundations – as long as they can prove that they are working on initiatives that are related to the Movember Foundation’s goals. That means any organization working to combat prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or mental health issues. A portion is also reinvested into the foundation in order to continue the global spread of the movement, moving into countries that have yet to catch on to the craze.
1 #1 One Million Annual Participants
In 2012, 1.1 million people worldwide signed up to participate and grow some mo’s to raise money for Movember. So, to recap; 80 people in 1999 to 1.1 million in 2012 – not bad, not bad at all. Even more people participated in 2013, and you can be sure that 2014 will be yet another record-breaking year. The crazy part is that this figure only represents men who actually sign up and raise money. A huge portion of participants don’t officially sign up to raise funds, but instead grow a moustache in solidarity and to raise awareness, or to just be a part of the fun. Whatever the motivation, Movember is no fad; it’s an annual celebration that’s here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we couldn’t be happier.