But what do handlebars actually accomplish?
October comes and goes, and with it, the mustache flows. Whether you can grow a ‘stache or not, whether you’re male or female, November is the month where it’s important to take heed of something that’s not really talked about all too often: Men's health.
Awareness on this subject doesn’t get to much coverage, as it’s only relevant for social discourse in November. For this reason, allow me to educate you all, and hopefully some of the stuff you’re about to read will stick in the coming year.
First and foremost, this month serves as a way to raise money for three important challenges many men will have to face during their lifetime: Mental health, Prostate Cancer, and Testicular Cancer.
Despite what some may think, the last two aren’t in fact the same thing (shocking, right?). Aside from the fact that they occur in separate parts of the body (though both parts are related in function) they differ in symptoms, age group affected, and detectability. Men under the age of 40 are more likely to develop testicular cancer. Prostate cancer is the more common of the two, with 1 in 8 men being affected by it in their lifetime, and killing about 35 men every hour. It’s also harder to detect than testicular cancer, and for that reason, goes untreated for longer periods of time.
The other important subject this month addresses is mental health. 3 out of 4 suicides committed are by males, which adds up to about 1 man dying from suicide every minute globally. The “suck it up” attitude our societies impose on males just is not working, and debatably, it never has- people are just starting to actually notice now. We need a societal shift towards mental health care, and a shift away from encouraging men to bottle up their problems, as that usually ends with them finding them, once again, at the bottom of a few glasses of whiskey.
The Movember Foundation, and the month in general, aims to help put a stop to these issues, and let men live healthier, longer lives. You can’t really complain about that.
The next question on the table however, is whether or not the month is actually productive. Is it just an excuse for you not to shave? Maybe, but that probably still has some worth, at least in regards to awareness, and raising support for the issue. Regardless, the numbers actually speak for themselves, as the Foundation has raised $759 million USD since 2003 in the battle for healthier men, and $82.3 million USD in 2015 alone.
Expanding further on the previous point, however, while your handlebar mustache may be fun, albeit unpleasant to some, there has to be something said about the difference between supporting men’s health and actually lobbying for it. By wearing a mustache, you say, “Hey, I think men should be healthier”, but that’s about it.
You don’t actually directly help cure someone’s prostate cancer, or even prevent someone from pulling the trigger. Unless you’re actually shaving and donating the hair, or otherwise taking part in some fashion to raise money for the Foundation, it’s the same as saying that you like the idea, but it’s not really worth your wallet or time.
There’s no excuse not to get involved. There’s all kinds of stuff you can do, it’s not just for men who can grow mustaches. You can fundraise via athletics, and via events pledged to the cause. You can even just donate directly.
Personally, I think if you bother to put 30 minutes into trimming your Chevron this month, you should take a fraction of that time, and donate 5$ to the Movember Foundation. It can be your good deed for the day, and hey, society’s health is everyone’s health, so why not? That’s the real question here.