The big idea was that men would grow moustaches to raise awareness of prostate cancer, but all the Borat looky-likeys and product placement have obscured the message, says Ahmed Zambarakji
It’s not often that I feel compelled to include disclaimers with my ranty blog posts but what follows is in no way intended to challenge the importance of giving to charity. It is our responsibility to give back to causes, communities, individuals and humanitarian organisations as often as possible – now more than ever.
Having said that, altruism is not something that I immediately associate with the ridiculousness that is Movember, the month where men of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to grow facial hair in an effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer.
The issue with Movember is that the gimmick has begun to upstage the cause. A quick keyword search of my inbox revealed no less than 50 Movember-related emails and invitations from various men’s grooming brands. Few, if any, mention anything about prostate cancer or how it affects men in the UK. Rather, they all cash in on the month by detailing the many ways in which their product can be used to sculpt novelty facial hair.
And herein lies the problem with Movember: it’s the kind of facial hair men decide to grow. Most men believe the more comic and absurd the growth, the better. Part of this has to do with the fact that it’s incredibly hard to make facial hair look good unless you happen to be Clark Gable or David Gandy. I’ve managed to resist a moustache on the off chance I get mistaken for a terrorist while travelling through Terminal 5. Even "standard" styles such as the goatee look ridiculous on men in the 21st century; they should have been left in the Nineties with denim overalls and Hypercolor T-shirts.
And so men gravitate towards handlebars, Borats, Super Mario Magnums, Dalis and – the most popular style of all – the "porn-stache". This greasy, downward-pointing decoration is a deliberate throwback to American softcore movies from the Seventies. It follows, then, that the greatest (and most delicious) irony surrounding Movember is that it persuades men to restyle themselves as second-rate Sex Pests in an effort to raise awareness about a disease that ultimately kills one’s libido or the ability to get/maintain an erection.
The degenerative disease killed 10,721 men in the UK in 2010 (almost 29 every day) and yet how many of Movember’s willing participants will end the month by asking their GP for a handy prostate examination (gently, now) or a PSA test to detect early signs of the disease? Most men will enter December, with a bit of razor burn and a couple of in-grown hairs at best.
If you really want to enter into the Movember spirit, get your husband/boyfriend tested, forego the Movember-branded products and spend your money here www.prostatecanceruk.org