The moustache, or, as the founders of Movember like to look at it, the home-grown version of a ribbon, is back in focus this month as men around the world grow theirs in a show of support for the eponymous foundation.
The campaign has come a long way since 2003, when a bunch of male friends in Melbourne, Australia, roped in 30 men and challenged them to not shave for the month of November in a bid to “change the face of men’s health”.
The next year, the 30 original “Mo Bros” reached out to 450 friends and colleagues to join them, and managed to raise about Dh130,00 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia through the newly formed Movember Foundation. In 2006, the campaign opened up to men in New Zealand, followed by those from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Spain in 2007.
While the movement started out focusing on raising funds for prostate cancer research, it has since incorporated issues such as testicular cancer and the oft-ignored arena of men’s mental health.
Currently, five million men from 20 countries have officially registered with the foundation, which has raised about Dh2.3 billion and funded 1,200 men’s health projects.
The “rules” are simple: you start clean-shaven and then grow your moustache (but not your beard) for the rest of the month. Choose to stick with your natural ‘stache or refer to the goofy Movember style guide, which includes such specimens as the trucker’s handlebar, the connoisseur’s curled whiskers, and the ever-so-slender wisp, among others.
This year, the foundation has also introduced Move, a fitness programme that involves volunteers signing up on the website, setting a distance goal and then walking, running, cycling, swimming or rowing their way to achieving it, raising funds – through the foundation or by themselves via social media – along the way.