Post-Movember ’staches: grow or no?

GROW
Alex Watt, ArtSci ‘15

Thinking about ditching that Movember ‘stache? Before picking up the razor, consider the benefits of growing your facial fur into December and beyond.

Given the lack of awareness surrounding men’s mental health and prostate cancer, coupled with the stigma associated with these issues, many men frequently ignore their symptoms.

Movember began as a way to draw attention to and provide support for men with these conditions. It was an opportunity to bring attention to men’s health issues that had been previously swept under the carpet.

These big furry ‘staches attract immediate attention. As a result, they instigate conversations on topics many are reluctant to embark upon. Canada has become one of the largest contributors to Movember of any country, with generous donations from family and friends shepherding individuals along their mo’ journey.

Male friends of mine sport their moustaches proudly. They regularly document the progression of their furry friend on their Mo Space page, Facebook or Instagram.

“Likes” may help generate more donations for the cause, but they also provide moral support as a bit of an ego-booster — the more attention they receive the better During Movember, it’s not only accepted to sport the oftentimes sparse and straggly facial hair above the upper lip, but it’s essentially encouraged.

So why not keep up the awareness?

Now that you’re through the awkward, early growth stage and are likely sporting a thick, full and luxurious moustache, why shave it off now?

Haven’t you become significantly attached to your soft furry friend? Could you really take a cold, hard blade to those handlebars you lovingly nurtured over the month?

Not only are the moustaches continuing to draw attention and support, but they’re beginning to experience a fashion revival. Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Will Farrell have all recently become mustachioed, even before Movember.

These moustaches have taken on qualities that surpass the awareness criteria for which they were originally grown. Words like “sophisticated”, “cute”, and even “poetic” have been tossed around to describe them.

If that’s not enough motivation to wear your moustache with pride, I don’t know what is.

But if these aren’t reason enough to hold on to that beloved facial hair and you do decide to expose your upper lip to the elements, just remember: winter is coming.

So you may as well fend off the cold with an extra layer of protection, while making a statement for a worthy cause.

NO
Luke Kessaram, ArtSci ‘16

As Movember ends, many in our community are faced with a choice: to shave or not to shave.

With the cold weather mounting, I’ve come to appreciate the added insulation afforded by my beard. Movember, however, isn’t on my list of reasons to maintain my face-garden.

The time will soon be upon us to decide whether to keep our newly grown facial hair, and as we consider our commitment to the ’stache, it’s worth taking a look at the movement as a whole.

But the thing is, Movember just isn’t doing it for me — and it’s just not doing it for men anymore either.

Since starting in Australia in 2003, Movember has become a truly global phenomenon. The organization has made great strides in its effort “to change the face of men’s health.” The success of the initiative corresponds with a rise of what I call “moustache-mania.” As seen on Google Trends, interest in moustaches and Movember reached its peak in 2012 and has never reached that benchmark since.

There’s no denying that moustaches were trendy — all you had to do was browse through Urban Outfitters to see that. But if you ask me, I’d say this whole moustache hullaballoo is on its way out. What are we to make of this?

Think of all the great times we had. Our bristly upper lips gave us something to bond over with our pals. Movember was a source of camaraderie, which is perhaps one of the reasons that the initiative had so much success — it was a way to be “one of the boys.”

In this way, the movement satisfied one of its primary goals: to spark conversations, with the intention of helping to subside the stigma surrounding men’s health.

But isn’t “being one of the boys” the reason that men’s health is stigmatized in the first place?

If that’s the case, then the stigmatization of men’s health seems to have more to do with popular conceptions of gender performance than anything else. I suggest that using masculinity to combat masculinity isn’t the most effective way forward.

The flaw in Movember is that, although it seeks to alleviate the strict expectation that men don’t admit to the weakness of illness, it also reinforces existing stereotypes about what it is to be “manly” and in fact further perpetuates the issue.

It’s time to change gears. Moustaches are out; gender equity is in. It’s starting to look like the key to eliminating the stigma might just be to shave it away; to look beyond the ‘stache, and indeed, deeper still. Because, while hair follicles may be dermal, stigma isn’t skin deep.

So, as December looms, remember this: don’t let your moustache define you.

Shave your ’stache or keep it, but either way it’s time to move on from Movember.

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