Today is the 17th day of Movember — and that's not a typo. The month of November has now become the month of Movember as men around the world sprout facial hair to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, namely prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.
Here's how it works: On Nov. 1 (or Mov. 1), participants (or "Mo Bros") gave their faces a clean shave. Over the course of the month, they have proceeded to grow, groom, trim and wax the "mo," or mustache, seeking sponsorship from friends or family for their efforts. The men involved not only get a chance to show off their favorite 'stache styles, they also serve as walking billboards on the issue of men's health. In the U.S., the funds raised via Movember are directed to men's health programs run by Movember, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
A friend of mine, Dr. Peter Richardson, biodiversity programme manager for the U.K.'s Marine Conservation Society, is a Movember participant this year and was gracious enough to let me ask him about the experience. Here's what Richardson had to say about becoming a Mo Bro:
MNN: So tell me, how did you get involved in this cause?
Peter Richardson: I have friends who have done it for years, and they have always badgered me for sponsorship. In recent years, as I got older, my lifestyle resulted in weight gain, so I used facial hair to hide my multiplying chins — I have been bearded since 2007. This year I have made some lifestyle changes, lost weight and become quite fit. Having delved through the beard this summer, and counted only one chin, I felt it was time to lose the beard and Movember seemed like a good excuse to disguise my vanity. Plus, I quite like the look of Gary Oldman's 'stache in the recent "Batman" movies ...
What do your family and friends think about the new facial hair?
The biggest reaction was from losing the beard and becoming a bald-faced man on the morning of Nov. 1st. Reactions were mixed — I shaved at midnight the night before, after the family had all gone to bed, so I surprised them the next morning. My 8-year-old son said I looked like a zombie and hid under the covers. My 4-year-old daughter, who doesn't remember me without a beard, was more encouraging: she pointed and laughed. The best reaction was from wife, Sue, who said it was like having the man she married back in the house. Not sure what Milly the cat thinks — she hasn't mentioned it. Now they are enjoying the moustache-growing process, but I don't think they think about it as much as I do.
Has it given you an opportunity to strike up conversations about Movember?
Yes — well, only briefly through Facebook and email. I haven't discussed the issues at length with anyone as a result of Movember ... but I am part of a Movember team at work, and some of the other members are quite competitive, so there is a sponsorship race on. I am now running a decent second after a standing start this morning and a concerted email campaign throughout the day. Movember has given us and our work colleagues another thing to laugh, gossip and b*tch about at work — so all good.
Will you keep it after Movember is over?
Not sure. The plan is to grow a big "Lover-man" 1970s handlebar moustache until the last week of the Movember month, so I can develop some volume. Then, in the last week, I will sculpt a flurry of ever-diminishing styles as a series of tributes to great moustache-wearers of our times. Oldman will be represented on at least one day, but I can't decide how to finish, elegant Clark Gable pencil, or Nazi Dictator taboo ... depends which one will get sponsored the most, which, as I have to keep reminding myself, is what it is all about.