How growing a moustache for fun became growing a moustache for charity
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Movember is kind of a weird thing. Born in an Adelaide pub by a group of presumably drunk Australians, the idea gradually became international and associated with many different causes—most notably prostate cancer awareness and ending stigmas around men’s mental health. The journey from South Australian in-joke to global phenomenon is strange and difficult to track, taking many bizarre twists and turns since that original pub night in 1999, but one thing is clear: Everyone’s on board when it comes to not shaving.
A group of Australian friends gave birth to the idea of growing a moustache for laughs after a long pub night. The entire joke was to grow out the facial hair for a month, an idea which eventually attracted 80 members to found the Movember Committee. The group eventually sold shirts to raise money for the RSPCA, jokingly calling it “whiskers for whiskers.”
Years later, in 2004, a group of apparently unrelated but inspired men in Melbourne started the Movember Foundation to raise awareness and funding for various men’s prostate cancer and depression organizations. This is the group that reached international fame for the idea of Movember and its association with charity, raising around $175 million over its history thus far. The Foundation has since partnered with celebrities, politicians, and corporations worldwide to continue promoting men’s mental and physical health. People can donate at www.movember.com, and the resulting funds go to the country where the money was raised.
The idea of Movember has spread far beyond the official charity work, however. Since the mid-2000s, it’s become incorporated into the mainstream culture, coinciding nicely with growing playoff beards in Canada and becoming popular in moustache havens on the West Coast of the US, such as Portland. Hopefully, awareness of its connections with men’s health is also growing, encouraging people to end the stigma around getting tested for prostate cancer or seeking professional help with depression. So, if you’re struggling with your health in any way and feel weak for getting help, just remember that there are millions of men around the world and several drunk Australians telling you it’s perfectly okay.