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#WTF Is Movember?

What do growing a moustache and curing cancer have in common? Read on to learn a whole new reason to love facial hair this month.
#WTF Is Movember?
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Greatist’s #WTFis series looks at new trends in health and fitness to explain what the heck they are, why people care, and if they live up to the hype.

Are moustaches back in style, or have I time-traveled to the 1970s? Seems like everywhere I turn these days, there’s a dude rocking a sweet handlebar or Fu Manchu. So what’s the deal with all the ‘staches? It’s not just a fad — during the month of November (unofficially renamed “Movember” in honor of the questionable facial hair style), men are encouraged to stop shaving to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male health issues. 

Illustration: Movember.com

The Lowdown

In 2003, some health-conscious dudes in Australia launched the Movember Foundation to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. The plan was simple — starting November 1, put the razor away and grow the best “mo” (Australian slang for moustache) possible. Why prostate cancer? The Movember Foundation crew looked around and saw dime-a-dozen pink ribbons, fundraising walks, and charity events for breast cancer, but nothing representing men’s health. They decided to raise awareness the manliest way they could think of — with facial hair, of course. Since those Aussies grew out their mo’s, Movember has grown exponentially, with month-long celebrations in 14 countries. In 2011, 850,000 “Mo Bros” participated, raising $126.3 million dollars worldwide. This year, a record 21 countries are taking part in the international fundraiser.

The Buzz — Why Do People Care Now?

Prostate cancer affects one out of every six men in the U.S. during their lifetimes, and 660 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day. Despite those statistics, prostate cancer often flies under the radar. One of the reasons may be because it usually only affects older men — the median age at diagnosis is 67, and 35 percent of all diagnoses occur to men between the ages of 65 and 74. It’s also not an easy topic to broach due to the way the tests take place. The good news is that 90 percent of all cases of prostate cancer are curable if detected early and treated properly. Unfortunately, men are less likely to go to the doctor than women (call it the macho complex) and get things checked out. That’s where the moustaches come in. The Movember Foundation’s main goal is to raise awareness of prostate cancer, but they also strive to change men’s attitudes about visiting the doctor and being aware of their health in general. By making male health issues fun and a bit goofy (check out this slideshow of rad moustache styles), the Movember Foundation is aiming to put men’s health on the map. 

The Verdict

We doff our hats to the folks at the Movember Foundation for creating a cancer fundraiser that’s universally applicable, community building, and not at all scary. Sign us up! For more information or to become a Mo Bro (or a Mo Sista — a supporting lady who helps raise money and recruit moustache-growing Bros), check out the Movember Foundation’s website.

Are you going to participate in Movember this year? Tell us in the comments below or tweet the author at @SophBreene.

Photo by BigStock, Video by Man Made

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