Remember, remember the ‘stache of Movember

Written by Pierce Csurgo on November 11, 2015

The mustache is no longer the exclusive domain of truckers, cowboys and ‘70s adult film stars. Now in November – actually, Movember – each year, top-lipped facial hair is grown over the faces of men in support of men’s health. Money is raised through the Movember Foundation, a charity that’s grown to include over 21 participating countries. Today, Movember is the largest non-governmental funder of prostate cancer research. Since it’s inception in 2003, Movember has raised $677 million for men’s health. As streets in Toronto are covered with leaves, and men’s faces grow uniquely shaped hair, we explore the history and evolution of this wildly successful charity campaign.

The idea started with a beer-induced conversation between two pals in Australia. The question was simple – Could they bring the moustache back into style? Adam Garone, now CEO of the Movember Foundation, was convinced the answer was yes, getting thirty of his friends join in the cultivation of moustaches over November. While hipsters may have co-opted funny facial hair, back in 2003 it was far from a trend. Even though his girlfriend left him, and passerby parents hid their children, at the end of the month, Adam knew he was onto to something bigger than just funny hair.

Over the following years, the moustache-centered event became a legitimized phenomenon, with the Movemember Foundation receiving charity status in 2006, two years after registering in Australia. It was set up with the purpose of raising awareness on a variety male health issues and educating men worldwide. By 2007, the foundation was partnered with prostate cancer foundations in Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the USA. Today, the foundation is ranked in the top 100 non-governmental organizations worldwide and shows no signs of slowing.

Movember filled a niche. While women are at the center of Breast Cancer awareness month, men’s health didn’t have a rallying point. What began as a friendly challenge between friends has grown into a movement responsible for funding several major breakthroughs in prostate cancer research, along with the world’s first Prostate Cancer Genome Mapping Project. The campaign is fun, taking serious issues and placing them in a light that is easy to talk about, not to mention everyone loves to share an untrimmed selfie that might win them a “Moscar”.

To date, more than 5 million individuals have participated in the annual campaign since their humble beginnings. While participants are mainly men, known as Mo Bros, women, or Mo Sistas are also encouraged to participate in the fundraising efforts. This year, Movember is underlining its first four letters: MOVE. People sign up, to grow moustaches for 30 days, but also commit to moving each of those days – be it a walk to work or ping pong game. It’s an extended call to arms, or rather an addition on the call to forgo a razor.

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