Moustaches are a bit like flares, perms and tie-dye t-shirts – they only come into fashion once a generation. Now I don’t care what the fashionistas tell me, or how many glossy fashion mags feature models sporting ‘hipster moustaches’ – moustaches are anything but hip. Surely the last person who looked cool with a tash was Freddie Mercury. And that was when he was wearing skin-tight white Lycra.
But in the next couple of weeks something strange will start happening: odd bits of fluff will start appearing above the top lips of otherwise normal, self-respecting men. Because starting tomorrow, ‘Movember’ marks the month when men around the world start making horrendous facial hair faux pas for the sake of charity. And their sacrifice is for a very good cause – men’s cancer.
Before ‘November’ became ‘Movember’, men’s health issues received very little attention. Chaps have traditionally been too embarrassed to talk about their ‘private parts’ with anyone and will proudly refuse to see a doctor about problems ‘down below’. The public have been similarly prudish about such issues – unwilling to jangle a charity tin for testicular diseases or for men who struggle to wee.
Compare this to our attitude to breast cancer and it is a completely different story: women regularly check themselves for lumps and bumps and the nation is more than happy to wear pink ribbons and run the Race for Life. These are all fantastic things; if only men could learn from that and be more proactive. Ask 100 men where they think their prostate is and 50 won’t have a clue. (It’s just beneath the bladder, so you know.) Do a survey asking how often they feel for testicular lumps and you will find that only 1 in a 100 ever bother.
And yet these are serious, life-threatening diseases. Prostate cancer, for example, affects one in eight men at some point in their lives – the same as for breast cancer in women. Meanwhile, testicular cancer rates have doubled in the last forty years, but who knew that?
Thank goodness, then, for the Movember movement. Slowly, it is helping to change attitudes. For what started as a silly beer-fuelled bet in an Australian bar has sprouted into a worldwide phenomenon. In the UK this November, over half a million men will grow a sponsored ‘mo’, collectively raising over £20 million for the Movember Foundation. Most of the money goes to Prostate Cancer UK with the remainder for funding testicular cancer research and male mental health issues. These charities are helping to revolutionise the care men receive for cancer and other serious medical conditions.
So for you men who are able to grow one (and who can live with themselves), you really ought to think about giving a ‘mo’ a go. Get someone to sponsor you or, failing that, sponsor someone else. Signpost people toward the Movember website – and have a read yourself. You haven’t got long to get going, mind you – Movember rules clearly state that the 1st November must start with a freshly shaved face. And before you even think about it: hair growth is to be exclusively above the lip. So no cheeky little goatees.
But whatever style you choose to groom – be it handlebar, pencil, Chaplin or ‘walrus’ – don’t start getting any silly ideas… shell suits are not acceptable.
Thanks for reading – all opinions expressed are my own. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.Follow @realdoctorstu