Movember, the annual campaign where men across the globe are encouraged to grow a moustache for a month to help battle prostate cancer and other male illnesses, really gets on my wick. Call it sour grapes from a baby-faced chap whose evident lack of testosterone precludes him from participating, but it’s always struck me as both irritating and creepy.
It all began in Australia in 1999, when a group of lads decided over a few tinnies that the much-maligned facial accoutrement was well overdue a comeback. They decided to grow out their ‘moes’ that November (geddit?) and thought they might as well raise some money for charity while they were at it; presumably, the charitable aspect was so they had a decent enough excuse for doing it, in the days when sporting a tache either meant you were over 60, a biker, a weirdo, or perhaps all three.
Today, Movember is a truly international phenomenon. Profiting from the gestation of an incurably arch and yet worthy sensibility among today’s youth, it’s been embraced by ranks of young men looking for a suitably ironic way in which to broadcast how ‘open’ and ‘aware’ they are. Movember isn’t just about raising money, oh no; it’s also about raising awareness about illnesses that we chest-puffing blokes are too damn, well, blokey to talk about - much less get tested for.
Since it began, Movember has raised over £92million for various charities, but the campaign’s website proclaims just as proudly that it has managed to convert plenty of us fellas to keep a constant check on our bodies. It somehow reckons to have generated ‘1.9 billion conversations’ about men’s health, but that’s not all: 43 per cent of ‘mo bros’ have said they have become ‘more aware and educated about the health risks they face’ by taking part; 20 per cent said they’ve started having regular checkups; and 67 per cent say they’ve advised their mates to do the same.
So, ‘what’s wrong with that?’ you may ask. While it may be annoying – resembling a month-long, hipster’s-own Red Nose Day - isn’t supporting a good cause, even with an ironic, furry smirk, in and of itself a good thing? Certainly, fundraising for medical research which could one day lead to people living longer is nothing to sneer at. But Movember isn’t as much about championing a good cause as it is about obsessing with the self.