It’s autumn, so here come the mustaches! If you notice more and more men ceasing to shave their facial hair in November, don’t assume it’s out of laziness or part of some fall trend. “Movember” is a month-long campaign to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues, such as depression and suicide.
What is Movember?
The idea for Movember was born in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia. In the first-ever Movember challenge, a group of 30 Aussie friends (self-proclaimed “Mo Bros”) challenged each other to grow out their mustaches for an entire month, simply to see if they could bring the style back to popularity. Surprised by their bold mustaches’ ability to spark conversation, the founders decided to attach the challenge to a worthy yet overlooked cause—men’s health—and The Movember Foundation was born.
Today, The Movember Project draws international participants from America, Europe, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, China and more. Since its humble beginning with only 30 entrants, there have been over 5.2 million Movember participants, and a whopping $710 million has been raised. Over the last 13 years, 1,200 men’s health projects have been funded with record-setting donations.
Movember still aims to generate conversation and increase awareness about prostate cancer (its original sponsorship partner), but today, the project is also focused on testicular cancer and mental health issues like depression and suicide prevention. Testicular cancer rates have doubled in the last 50 years, prostate cancer rates will do the same in the next 15, and 500,000 men take their own life each year. There is widespread stigma and silence surrounding these three health issues, but thanks to Movember, the state of crisis in which men’s health currently finds itself is being reversed.
To participate in Movember, simply grow out your facial hair every day during the month of November, start as many conversations about men’s health as you can, and raise money for the non-profit organization. Some challengers ask friends and family to donate a dollar every day they grow out their ‘stache, others take bids on what color to dye it, and many simply donate the money they would have spent on shaving materials that month. If you want to participate, yet can’t grow a ‘stache for whatever reason (your work doesn’t allow it, for example), check out the similar, yet more lenient program No-Shave November.)
The fundraising options are endless and can be wildly creative, but one thing is certain: Movember is an incredible way to break the silence and stigma surrounding men’s health on a global scale. To kick off and celebrate the start of Movember, here are 15 fascinating facts about mustaches.
1. The King of Hearts is the only king in a deck of cards without a mustache.
2. The average man spends six months of his life shaving and mustache grooming (assuming he begins around 15 and lives to be around 75).
3. In Eureka, Nev., it is illegal for men with mustaches to kiss women.
4. Police in India’s Madhya Pradesh state are sometimes paid bonuses to grow their mustaches because they’re believed to command more respect.
5. How’s this for mustache grooming? Noblemen in the Victorian era ate soup with special ‘mustache spoons’ equipped with small barriers to protect their mustaches, according to uselessdaily.com.
6. In 1967, The Beatles included cardboard mustaches in their album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, because the band members were all sporting mustaches on the cover.
7. The first historical artifact depicting a mustache dates back to 300 B.C. It shows an Iranian horseman with a thick, black mustache.
8. A study by the University of Southern Queensland in Australia found that facial hair can protect skin and prevent skin cancer by deflecting 90 to 95 percent of harmful UV rays.
9. There are between 10,000 and 20,000 hairs on a man’s face, and the average mustache has 600.
10. According to Guinness World Records, Ram Singh Chauhan holds the record for longest mustache, spanning 14 feet long. He has been growing it since 1982, after a friend with a seven-foot-long mustache suggested it.
11. Mustaches are capable of absorbing 20 percent of their own weight in liquid, which makes them very handy in the event of spillage.
12. The average man will touch his ‘stache upwards of 750 times per day, averaging 31.25 times per hour.
13. Alexander the Great made all his soldiers shave their mustaches before the battle of Ardela.
14. The World Beard and Mustache Championships have taken place annually since 1990, and Anchorage, Alaska has sent a record number of entrants.
15. Albert Einstein was not seen without his mustache for over 50 years.
Want more? Check out 13 more things you didn’t know about mustaches on Reader’s Digest.