Mates and moustaches

You probably have a pretty good idea about what Movember is, but do you know how it came to be? Let me enlighten you.

The movement has increased in popularity since its modest 2003 launch in Melbourne, Australia. It all began with a simple conversation between two friends — Luke Slattery and Travis Garone. The guys were sharing a few beers, pondering one of life’s big questions: Why has the moustache not made a comeback?

It truly was as simple as this, considering why some trends return while others fade into oblivion. Luke and Travis talked to some of their friends, and as many things go in the male world, a competition was created: a moustache growing competition. Thirty participants were rounded up. No money was raised.

The men were overwhelmed by the dialogue brought about by their upper lip hair — many people asked why the group was growing moustaches, and so they decided to try and use their facial hair to benefit a worthy cause. The following year was the official beginning of the Movember Foundation (a bit of clarification: “mo” is an Australian slang word for moustache, hence Movember).

The co-founders, Luke Slattery, Travis Garone, Adam Garone and Justin Coghlan, recognized that men were not able to engage with their health issues as successfully as women were. The guys searched for a cause and eventually decided on PCFA, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Four hundred and fifty men took part in the 2004 initiative to raise awareness and funds for PCFA. They raised AU$55,000 — the largest donation PCFA had ever received!
The movement expanded to such a point that in 2006 it was large enough to collaborate with a second men’s health partner in Australia known as beyondblue, a national group in Australia that supports depression — another silent illness affecting Australian men.

Movember has grown and grown, reaching much further than just “the land down under.” Nine countries — New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the U.K., Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, and Ireland — have offically embraced Movember in some way.

So a big hats-off to Luke, Travis, Adam, and Justin for the incredible impact they have made on men’s health in less than a decade. It is truly inspiring to see how far a good idea can go in such a short period of time. While Movember is about raising awareness and funds, a quote by Garone serves as a reminder that there is more to Movember than moustaches and fundraising: “There’s no rule that says you can’t flaunt a really serious cause and not have fun, so we should certainly push that boundary.” Try and be part of this push. Become a Mo Bro or Mo Sista and have some fun in the changing of habits, attitudes, awareness, and funding related to men’s health issues.