Movember: A Hairy Situation

Amanda's 'Stache

You might notice a lot more men growing facial hair these days. In fact, if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, you might even be seeing regularly posted pictures of your friends showing off the progress of their growth. And then there are the women, posting pictures of themselves with cut-out mustaches.

What’s up with that? 

This month happens to be #Movember, and men around the world are avoiding the razor as a means of raising money for, and bringing awareness to, men’s health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. The campaign began in Australia back in 2003 (and is still based there), where a mustache is commonly referred to as a “Mo”, hence the name #Movember. The initial year included 450 men in Australia raising about $56,000. Nine years later the cause is global, and last year 854,000 men (145,000 of them in the U.S.) raised about $126 million.

Tom Whiteside, the organization’s Grassroots Engagement Director herein the U.S. says that men just don’t like to talk about health issues or go to the doctor. #Movember is an opportunity to shine a light on the issue, and encourage men to take their health seriously. As proof that no one is talking about it, Whiteside says that the organization is the largest non-government funder of prostate cancer research in the world. But the goofy nature of the event is why it works.

“It’s fun,” Tom says. “It’s different approach that doesn’t feel like charity. It’s a new approach to philanthropy.”

The beauty of this cause is that it’s all done with just 55 employees. It’s a grassroots movement with social media at the core. Those who sign up to participate get their own donation page that can be shared across the web. And this year, Instagram is huge, with well over 100,000 images already using the #Movember hashtag.

And while growing facial hair is decidedly a “man thing,” even women get on board, posing with fake or paper mustaches. Whiteside says the “Mosistas”, as they are called, play a really important role, above and beyond raising money for the cause.

“Women are often a gateway to men’s health, they get us to go to doctor,” he says. “The more women are involved the better.”

For instance, 24 year old Amanda Lawson works for an insurance company in Iowa. This is her second year of being a Mosista.

“I have had many family members who have survived cancer or are fighting cancer currently,” she says. “A friend/co-worker of mine is fighting breast cancer right now, and I see and hear about cancer every day in my line of work. My company provides cancer supplemental insurance policies, so I am constantly reminded of the impact cancer has on a family, emotionally, physically and financially.”

Amanda is raising money as a member of the Midwest Sports Fans team.

And of course there are prizes, both for those who raise certain levels of money, as well as for those who grow the best mustaches.

In addition to their website, Facebook Pages, and Instagram page, they are also on YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and have a mobile app.

Thanks to #Movember and their strong social media and online presence, not only are funds being raised for a great cause, but we’re finally talking about something that normally gets ignored.