This year I joined the number of males on campus who have put down their shavers for the month of Movember. Beginning in Australia over a decade ago the notion of not shaving on the eleventh month has now spread throughout the world, but what is it that growing a moustache represents? This is the question that Mo-bros (the bros who grow mos) want you to ask.
Reading up on some of the facts and figures, I realised that I was largely ignorant about cancers that affect males specifically. For example, one in eight males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives, and every hour one man in the UK will pass away because of the illness. Figures have shown that males actually have a 14% high chance of developing cancer than females. However, testicular cancer is highly treatable, with over a 95% cure rate if caught in its early stages. With this in mind, making men aware of such a figure could potentially be life saving. All the more reason to join the moustached ranks of Marx and Einstein.
Yet, one factor that I did not realise was necessarily associated with Movember was mental health. Earlier in the year Emma Watson made a speech at the United Nations as part of her new role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, which mentioned as part of her launch of her HeForShe campaign how “UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49 years of age”. She suggested that the an inability to adresses their mental illness, which results in suicide, is a fear that it may make them seem less “macho”, like less of a man. Whether or not Watson is correct in this, the figures do show that 75% of suicides in the United Kingdom are male. Surely by helping begin dialogue with males about mental health through Movember we can help tackle these figures by freeing up a male channel of communication on the topic.
Participants of Movember hope that by growing out the facial hair, and therefore changing the look of their face, they might too “change the face of Men’s Health”. Using the iconic moustache as a conversation starter it is the aim of a Mo-bro to get others talking about male health, whether that be discussing male specific cancers or opening a dialogue about mental health. But raising awareness throughout the month is not the only aim of the campaign; many who take part also use this to raise money for charities associated with male health. Achieving a sum of over twenty-million pounds last year within the United Kingdom alone, the donations this year are expected to significantly help the charities such as Prostate Cancer UK.
Fourth time mo-bro, Alex Varey, took part again this year forming a team with the Lancaster University Theatre Society. When I asked him what he liked about the charity he said: “It’s not like running a marathon or doing a bungee jump, it’s simple, just don’t shave.” As an added incentive Alex has promised to shave his head if the team manage to reach a thousand pound goal, a gesture which like the growing of a moustache is bound to raise good conversation for the cause.
For more information about male health and Movember see: http://uk.movember.com