Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Forward To Next Movember

I wrote this post about Movember last month. Movember, if you don't know, is the annual worldwide event in which men grow mustaches during November raising money and awareness to fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer and other men's health issues. I thought this post would be published elsewhere, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. So, I'm posting it here.

This year’s Movember has come and gone and I regret not being a part of it. Several of my family members had prostate cancer, including my father and his father. So, between that and being African-American, I’m at high-risk for having it. I participated in two runs to raise money for prostate cancer awareness and research. Comparatively, it should’ve been a breeze to grow a mustache.

However, I didn’t do it. I had some job interviews scheduled and since many men – particularly in the corporate world – don’t rock a mustache, I didn’t need to turn off potential employers by explaining the fundraiser on my face. Holly doesn’t like moustaches, either. Especially on me.

A big part of it, though, was I thought growing a mustache to fight cancer is a little silly and kind of lazy. I thought you needed to do something to raise awareness or money for cancer. Growing facial hair didn’t seem like doing very much.

A few days into December, I came across this post on Slate’s Double XX blog. Torie Bosch wrote about the parody video called “Goodbye Movember, Hello Decembeaver,” in which women raise money to fight cancer by not shaving their pubic hair.

I thought the video was funny. The creators even included a link to the American Cancer Society. It’s good fun for a good cause.

But it was Bosch’s comments about Movember that irked me. She began her piece by calling it,

..that silly month in which men on your Facebook wall grow out their mustaches “for cancer.” (Because one cannot simply donate to groups like the American Cancer Society—a stunt must be involved.)

Later, in talking about what she thinks the Decembeaver video is doing, she writes,

But they’re also skewering the rather narcissist Movember approach. Though that campaign has raised millions of dollars, it does so in a self-proclaiming, patting-yourself-on-the-back kind of way.

I've never participated in Movember, don’t know anyone who has, and have no prior connection to it, but Bosch’s critique really bothered me. I wanted to defend Movember, and more importantly, its cause. Even though I thought it was silly, it didn’t seem right to bash an awareness and funds drive that raised a record $116 million just because it’s done by growing facial hair.

Just about every single fundraiser, especially for an illness, is a stunt: The walks, the runs, the concerts. People admire the endurance of their friends in a walk or run. Celebrity star power persuades the public to donate for a cause. They all try to bring attention to a cause.

Here's a guess as to why Movember works. I concocted the exchange below, but I’m sure there were many similar conversations around the world.

What’s that on your face? 
I’m growing a mustache! 
[Confused look.] Why? 
It’s for Movember.
What’s that?
It’s a campaign to raise money and awareness for men’s health, especially prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

That exchange is an opportunity to talk about men’s health and maybe even make a donation for Movember. Those conversations probably wouldn’t have happened if men didn’t grow their Mo’s. Compared to women, men are less likely to speak about their illnesses and seek medical attention for them. In addition to raising money, one of Movember’s goals is to encourage men to talk more about their health.

In bashing Movember, Bosch woke me up. I don’t think it’s silly or lazy anymore. I realize it’s a very easy and fun way to start a conversation. Friends, family and co-workers notice new a mustache – it’s right there on your face – and they’ll probably say something about it. Those are opportunities to start conversations, increase awareness and raise funds.

I hate making declarations about things I plan to do next year (you never know what life throws at you), but I’m going to participate in Movember next year. We’ll have a laugh when someone asks about the activity on my upper lip, but I’ll use it as an opportunity to talk about a very important issue.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I haven't posted in long time. A long.. long.. time.

It's been a busy couple of months. It's been so busy that I might have to take the "stay-at-home dad" phrase out of this blogs sub-heading.

More on that in the weeks to come.

In the meantime here's wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013!