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It's #Movember, and everything you know about it is probably wrong

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 7:27 IST

It's November, which can only mean one thing:

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But winter is not all you need to brace yourself for. Something worse than ice zombies and repeated twincest is coming your way. Something terrible. This November, like every November for the past 15 years, there will be a plague of smug moustachioed men.

From hippies to hipsters and everything in between, men across the world will grow their moustaches. But when asked what for, most will draw a blank. Slurred exclamations of "Movember bro!" will greet the ears of those unfortunate enough to question the Mo Bro. Further probing will only result in increasingly more drawn out bros. All this punctuated by exasperation at the questioner's lack of blind acceptance.

After all, it is Movember.

Let me clarify that I have nothing against facial hair. I sport an ungodly amount of it year-round. If someone had to describe me, my refusal to shave would probably be a go-to descriptor. So it's not the sudden proliferation of moustaches and beards that bothers me.

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It's that most of those 'participating' have no clue why Movember is even a thing - and whether they're even actually participating.

Remember, remember just what is Movember

The actual point of Movember has been lost as legions of men too lazy to shave have mindlessly jumped on the bandwagon. But there was once, and actually still is, a point to the moustache mania.

It started in Australia in 1999, when a group of friends coined the term while drinking at a pub. The name is a portmanteau of Mo (Aussie slang for moustache) and November. Fairly flippant but made meaningful by their idea of doing it to raise money for a local animal rescue group.

But Movember as we know it today didn't get its start until after the turn of the century.

Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, two Australians, found themselves at a bar. Brainstorming ways to bring the moustache back as a trend, they hit upon Movember. Inspired by a friend's drive for breast cancer awareness, the two adopted the moustache as a symbol for raising awareness and funding for men's health issues.

And just like that, Movember as we know it was born.

In the first year, 30 friends of the duo signed up to be part of Movember, raising hopes but not quite raising any money.

Now over 2,00,000 moustaches come out in force every November, raising millions. To date the Movember movement has raised well over 5,000,000 USD worldwide.

While the first edition didn't have a specific focus as such, the key issues that drive Movember have gotten more specific with time:

  1. Prostate Cancer
  2. Testicular Cancer
  3. Physical Inactivity
  4. Mental Health

All one has to do to take part is to create a Mo Profile on the Movember website where your supporters will be able to donate to the Movember charity.

If you aren't making a profile, or doing something to raise awareness and money for the charity, then you're not really taking part. All you're doing is using your appearance to annoy those around you with impunity. It becomes like the Ice Bucket Challenge all over again with people completely missing the point but feeling a good deal better about themselves.

So I don't have a Mo Profile

You could just register for one. Alternatively, if you're up for Movember but don't believe in making a profile (seriously?) you can at least educate yourself about some facts to spread awareness.

Take, for example, the fact that 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Or that prostate cancer is the 5th most common cancer in men. Sure it's grim, but it's necessary, so why stop there? Educate yourselves and those around you about prostate exams, the means to detect it. Or carrot, one way to reduce the risk.

Or learn about mental health issues in men, a struggle that is mostly not open to discussion in Indian society. Around the world, one man commits suicide every second. That should be enough to make it an urgent conversation.

Obesity is a third such issue. Unhealthy lifestyles are leading to a range of dietary and exercise related health issues, most preventable.

Whatever you decide to educate yourself on, do it. At least this way you're raising awareness, even if the wisps on your face are neither impressive nor principled.

Fail in this as well as actually donating towards the charity, and you will be seen as just another lemming, careening mindlessly of a cliff. So this Movember, as the world gears up for another round of awareness and fundraising for men's issues, ask yourself "Am I really taking part"?

If the answer is yes, then by all means grow your moush. And if the answer is no, you can still grow your moush - but if you're going to parrot the "Movember brooo" line, you've completely missed the point and deserve any and all scorn directed towards you.

You've been warned!

First published: 1 November 2015, 7:28 IST
 
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.

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