It began in Australia. This seems strangely appropriate; in that rugged country a movement named “Movember” would emerge that inspired a rugged sense of companionship. Companionship, and a fight against a host of often invisible enemies facing men around the world.
Movember, a combination of “mo” for “moustache” and “November,” began in Australia in 1999, with a group of men who decided to grow their moustaches for the entire month. Any money normally spent on shaving supplies was instead given to charities. At first, most of the support raised by Movember went to pet charities, but over the next decade, Movember began to become more narrowly focused. The Movember Foundation began in 2003, with the express intent of supporting men’s health. From cancer to suicide prevention, Movember’s goal is to stop men from dying prematurely. From Australia, the Movember movement began to grow, spreading around the world.
In 2007, a related movement began in the United States. The Hill family, who had forgone shaving during the month of November for several years, decided to start a charity in honor of their father, Matthew Hill, who died of colon cancer. From then on, No-Shave November became a regular event on the calendar of many American men, and the women who supported them. No-Shave November encouraged men and women to stop shaving entirely, and to donate any money saved to charities dedicated to cancer research.
Together, No-Shave November and Movember have advanced men’s health issues for the past decade. The movements have funded cancer research, and raised awareness for men’s mental health. International Men’s Day predated the two hairy charities, but works to combat the same problems. Among the stated goals are a focus on men and boys’ health. As the homepage of IMD states, “men’s health is worse than women’s.” Past themes of International Men’s Day have included “Stop Male Suicide,” and “Keeping Men and Boys Safe.”
No-Shave November, the worldwide Movember movement, and the timing of International Men’s Day all combine to turn November into a month-long opportunity to recognize and engage with the issues facing men today. The movements have also contributed to a growing realization; fighting for men’s health can bring people together. The No-Shave November and Movember movements in particular have shown men around the world that brotherhood is one of the strongest weapons a man can use. Through brotherhood and a common bond, even a scruffy moustache can help to save another man’s life.