What do Theodore Roosevelt, Salvador Dalí and Hulk Hogan have in common?
That’s right. Like sub-nasal Samsons, they all derived their power from their impressively hirsute upper lips. And if over the next thirty days the men in your life seem to be emulating these titans of ‘tache, it can mean only one thing—Movember is once again upon us.
In homes and workplaces up and down the country and all over the world, participants will spend the next month lovingly shaping their facial hair into a dandy handlebar, heroic horseshoe or mighty walrus.
Of course, it’s all for a good cause. We Mo’ Bros (as growers respectfully call each other) donate our upper lips for the thirty days of Movember to promote men’s health charities. Women can get in on the fundraising act, too, by becoming Mo’ Sistas. Last year’s 854,000 participants raised $126 million for the likes of LiveStrong and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Just as importantly, the sudden appearance of thousands of fledgling whiskers around the world sparked conversations with their owners which led, in turn, to much-needed awareness of men’s health issues.
The need for such awareness is tragically clear. For various reasons, men are significantly less likely than women to visit the doctor for routine check-ups. Partly as a result of this, their health is generally poorer. One in six will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives, and almost 30,000 die from the disease every year in the United States alone—that’s the equivalent of about eighty Boeing 747 crashes annually.
The figures for mental health are similarly stark: six million American men suffer depression each year and they are four times more likely than women to commit suicide. Despite recent advances, male life expectancy in the United States is, at 77, still five years less than the average for women.
For the third year running, we Mo’ Bros and Sistas at the British Embassy have formed a team, the Stiffer Upper Lips, to engage in a spot of friendly competition with the other teams in our network, the Embassy Mo’s on Embassy Row, including our Commonwealth chums at the Australian Embassy.
Last year, we Brits trounced the competition, raising the most money overall ($10,111 out of a total of $18,718) and taking both individual fund-raising awards (Bro and Sista) and the best and worst moustache prizes. Defending those honours will take some doing, but I am quietly confident in both the generosity of my colleagues and their mastery of mo’.
So if you like the sound of a month-long festival of follicle fecundity, please consider donating or, better yet, signing up to raise some money yourself. Details can be found at http://www.movember.com.