Mothers, hide your daughters. For the next month, there will be an abundance of moustaches — some distinguished and some absolutely grotesque — emerging from the upper lips of many ordinarily clean-shaven men all over the country and the world. Pretty soon, many men will start to look like extras from a ’70s cop drama and some more unfortunate men will look like Sidney Crosby in a long playoff run. Before things get too crazy, let’s just be sure everyone is doing this for the right reason.
Over the past few years, there has been commercialization of many different types of cancer research. For instance, many companies, like Yoplait, simply issue pink versions of their products or slap a pink ribbon on a product to capitalize on consumer sympathy towards breast cancer. There is an entire website — thinkbeforeyoupink.org — devoted to hunting down corporations that have monetized breast cancer awareness. They call these companies “pinkwashers.”
The Livestrong foundation, founded by Lance Armstrong, is a charity that funds cancer research and community support for cancer patients that has had a particularly rough week. Though the charity might be morally praiseworthy, it is not as ethically clear how to evaluate their founder who was recently stripped of his medals after being accused of blood doping.
There are a seemingly endless amount of charities devoted to funding research for a number of illnesses, cancer or otherwise. However, there are very few male-specific fundraising initiatives, especially for illnesses that deal with socially taboo parts of the body.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among Canadian men. In 2012 alone, there were 26,500 cases of prostate cancer found in Canadian men. On average, 11 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer every day. Furthermore, one in seven men will develop prostate cancer in their life and one in 28 will die from it. Fortunately, prostate cancer is very treatable if detected early, but many do not seek treatment due to the nature of the screening process.
Perhaps one of the most successful prostate cancer fundraising programs ever has been using traditional methodologies — gathering sponsors for a specific activity — like moustache growing. Movember, which originated in Melbourne, Australia in 2004, has grown to be a global phenomenon that has had 1.9 million sponsors and raised over $300 million so far. The process is simple: register on the ca.movember.com and accept donations from sponsors. The donations will go towards prostate cancer research.
The website is extremely user friendly and — as with any worthwhile charity — is upfront about where the money that is raised actually goes. With many other charities using this model of fundraising, the person gathering sponsors is required to perform acts that require bravery, endurance or strength. Movember requires men not to shave a part of their face. It is quite literally the least one can do.
Everyone from NHL coaches, TV hosts and school teachers have joined the movement, but far more are growing moustaches in November with no association to the Movember cause. If one decides to do their finest David Spence or Lanny McDonald impression and grow a stache on their face, then they might as well help out a charity in the process. Simply growing a moustache because it has become fashionable to do so in the month of November is morally akin to selling contraband Livestrong bracelets — it serves absolutely no purpose and defaces the intentions of those helping a worthy cause.
So, if you are planning on growing a stache this November, ask your family, your friends or your co-workers to chip in a couple bucks for a good cause. Or, if you are an experienced moustachio, ask for sponsors to shave off your particularly indentured lip warmer. Either way, it is a great idea for a fundraiser and it is in support of a great cause. Don’t just grow one to be that guy. If you’re going to grow a stache, you best be raising some cash.