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Movember: the Moustache is King

Some or most of us have heard of the term “Movember” but what does this term really mean and denote? Movember fuses the word moustache and the month November to represent the annual event of growing moustaches during said month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide (men are statistically four times more likely to commit suicide than women).

The Movember Foundation runs this month-long charity event with the goal of changing “the face of men’s health” by encouraging men to adopt healthier lifestyles and be aware of family history of cancer. Since 2004, this charity has run Movember events to raise awareness and funds for men's health issues, such as prostate cancer and depression, in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, events were launched in Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and the United States.

Where you won’t usually see students or teachers with moustaches all year round, two singular individuals: Mirko M and Mr Holtham, have been caught sporting moustaches for the past few weeks. We have therefore decided to interview them.

Is this your first time growing a moustache for Movember?

Mirko: It’s not the first time I’ve grown a moustache. When I was in a British boarding school, there was a big thing where teachers and students shared laughs growing moustaches, however, I wasn’t very successful considering I was younger. Now I would like to think that I am.

Mr Holtham: No, it is the second time.

If not, when did you first do it?

Mirko: the first time I did it was 5 years ago at my boarding school in England.

Mr Holtham: I did it once about four to five years ago.

How did you come to learn about Movember?

Mirko: I came to know about Movember because in my British rugby team, my coach grew a moustache and we kept on laughing about how ridiculous it looked. One day he explained the meaning of it and I found it a beautiful way of spreading awareness.

Mr Holtham: I like rugby an awful lot so I watch a lot of rugby and in the teams its been very popular to grow moustaches as a way of calling attention. I don’t know if its because of the Australians or as you say the Kiwis, but its become very popular. The popularity has also grown in the UK because of the rugby players’ involvement in it.

Why did you decide to grow a moustache now?

Mirko: From the moment my rugby coach explained the meaning of Movember, I decided to grow a moustache every year, which I have done. Its a beautiful way to spread awareness on male specific illnesses. If your not donating money or getting involved in your community, I think that its a nice way to spread awareness.

Mr Holtham: I don’t know if it was the Rugby World Cup, when I saw all the rugby players with moustaches it reminded me of when I’d done it four or five years ago where Movember had been reasonably successful but there wasn’t a lot of interest in the school. I watched the World Cup and I thought I’d do it again, and then it came to half term where I didn’t shave and I thought: oh, I’ll just leave it on.

Will you do it again next year?

Mirko: I will do it again next year because I also think its fun as well as necessary.

Mr Holtham: I hope so, yes. Especially because I think this year has been far more successful. I’ve been very impressed by Mirko, I think that its a really good thing that he’s done it. I’ve explained this all to my students and I even know that Elena R has got an interest in it. I think that its something that we should be talking about.

What does Movember mean to you?

Mirko: Movember to me means being conscious about acting well as a man as well as thinking about others. I think we have to sympathise with families who have lost their fathers, brothers or sons through prostate cancer, suicide because its something that we have to realise exists. These illnesses are powerful just as this means of awareness is. Its good to know that lots of people want to battle these illnesses by supporting their communities.

Mr Holtham: It means just drawing attention to male health issues which men are not always good at dealing with. Whether its mental health, prostate cancer or testicular cancer, these are all things it represents and I think its just getting people to think a little bit about that.

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