I can’t lie … I’ve never been much of a “mustache girl.” When I was a kid, I had a Ken doll. “Mod-haired Ken” they called him. He came with removable, reconfigurable facial hair. He became an increasingly bad character, the more facial hair I applied to him. Sporting a full beard and ‘stache, he was straight up Evil Ken. Kind of ironic that I have been with a bearded man for over a decade. The heart wants what it wants.
So, remove my beloved husband from the equation, and imagine my despair when Movember became a “thing.” Everywhere I went, I was lost in a sea of mustached men. Mind you, precious few men can grow a luxurious mane … er, fur face … that even begins to rival Mod-haired Ken’s masterpiece. None of that mattered, initially. I wanted to know why Movember was happening, and how I could lead the charge to put an end to it.
As it turns out, Movember is a glowing example of what Margaret Meade so eloquently wrote eons ago, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
Okay, Movember is not exactly that deep, or at least it did not begin as a mission for the greater good. Around the early 2000s, 30 guys in Australia decided to revive the mustache.
Are folks really that bored Down Under? At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. This little experiment took off. By its second year in existence, it turned into a fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Awareness – the group raised nearly $45,000.
In less than a decade’s time, men in over 20 countries participated in Movember fundraisers, netting nearly $118 million U.S. for men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer, as well as depression and other mental health issues. Yes, really.
What started as a sort of men’s night out, “hold my beer” moment became a miraculous global movement. Who knew that growing a stache could be the catalyst to inspire men around the world to finally talk about health? And depression? Mustaches apparently inspire men to get in touch with their feelings. Wow! If Mod-haired Ken could only have been able to talk all those years ago!
The truth is that no matter how difficult it may be for some guys to do, growing a little facial hair is nothing compared to the harsh reality when it comes to men’s health, especially men’s mental health. Every day, 117 people die by suicide – just in the U.S. – and men are almost four times more likely than women to commit suicide. The group at highest risk is middle-aged Caucasian men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.
Yes, remind the men you love to have prostate and testicular cancer screenings, but also watch for suicide warning signs. Changes in appetite, activity level, sleep habits and comments about self-harm are red flags to watch out for.
Every time a mustache crosses your path this Movember, think of it as the “pink ribbon” that could help save a man you love.