Growing up, my dad had a mustache. He wasn’t unique in that regard – and back then, Movember didn’t even exist. As a man of the 80’s and 90’s, he was probably in the majority. Throw in the fact that he was culturally Indian and you would have been surprised if he didn’t have one.
My dad’s mustache was so synonymous with what I knew my dad to be, that – in my eyes – even the white van he drove to and from work everyday appeared to have its own bushy black mustache on its face.
I had a love hate relationship with that mustache, and since then, with every mustache I have come in contact with.
My dad was a loving dad. He would kiss my brother and I often. Sometimes he would kiss us on the neck, and because of his mustache it would not only be a playful embrace, but a ticklish one. But without fail, that interaction would always tow the line of being fun – and one that I didn’t want to stop – and one that I couldn’t wait to be over. Because the coarse hair would itch, and scratch, and sometimes even be painful.
The complicated nature of Mustaches
Anyone who has kissed a man (or woman?) with a mustache – and a particularly thick one – knows what I’m talking about.
Mustaches are complicated.
So, despite being much like my dad folically (not only am I soon going to be predominantly grey like him, I too have been blessed with illustriously thick hair – on my face), my relationship with my own mustache and, by extension, the entire Movember movement has been laden with complication and confusion.
Putting aside the fact that mustaches – save for when worn by the odd hipster, farmer, or tough guy – are pretty much out of style, wearing a mustache in November has always been a no-go for me. That is also in spite of the fact that the intent behind Movember movement is done for a good cause.
Shining a light on men’s health is a cause well worthwhile. Man has long been stereotypically cast as tough, and bringing attention to the health issues that seemingly threaten his strength by making him appear weak or vulnerable is long overdue.
It’s high time the stigma surround men taking about health issues becomes a thing of the past.
With all that said, for me, the issues and conversations have never hit home enough to overcome my aversion to wearing the mustache.
Why participating in Movember isn’t as simple as it seems
You see, not wearing the mustache hasn’t been about avoiding looking like my father (and thereby an old Indian man from the 80s), nor has it been about the lip-warmer being out of favour. It has always been about my mind.
What will people think of me? Will it change the way they see me? Will I be less appealing or attractive? Will there be some unintended implication on my life?
It was always about if I was going to be judged by someone else.
The anxiety associated with those thoughts was so strong that it outweighed the benefit of bringing awareness to men’s health issues.
Essentially, the problem wasn’t the moustache, it was my mind. That was – of course – until this year.
This year, I have experienced more health “issues” than I would have liked, not least of which has been a resurgence of my struggle with depression.
Dealing with relatively unforeseen health problems is one thing – but it happens. Dealing once again with mental illness at a level of severity which I honestly thought I would never return to is another. And it has been hard.
And it was the combination of the two (along with some playful, and healthy encouragement from a friend and colleague) which convinced me that there was no better time than the present to get past my insecurities and grow the mo.
The importance of Movember and the mustache
The desire to bring awareness to issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and general men’s health is a no-brainer. But it’s not always easy. Often because people dealing with the issues feel like they have bigger fish to fry, and those who aren’t likely don’t feel the passion or the need. That’s why the Movember movement and its central focus – the mustache – is so important.
The mustache allows men (and women – why not?) to band together and be vulnerable, send a message, and support a cause, all while doing one of the manliest things one can do: growing a mustache.
And what’s more, it does so in a way that makes standing out for having a hairy upper lip okay. Maybe even cool?
There are many ways to support Movember and by extension, men’s health. You can visit Movember.com and donate; you can visit Bell Let’s Talk or the Canadian Mental Health Association – two causes I support – or you can simply share this blog, or share a photo of a man with a mustache (see mine below) to bring attention to the fact that there are men out there who may look (and very well be) tough but are dealing with health issues and could use the support.