In November, leaves fall and mustaches grow.
We're all familiar with what happens each year as the weather cools: Pumpkins adorn doorsteps, radio stations start playing holiday tunes and mustaches appear on upper lips. You're probably familiar with this yearly occurrence known as No-Shave November, or Movember. Maybe someone in your household participates or you yourself participate.
I thought No-Shave November was just a silly, quirky thing people did for fun. Until I started writing this article, I never knew all those mustaches, beards and armpit tufts grew out for a cause.
Well, I'll be darned -- turns out, No-Shave November and Movember aren't just themed months. They're both charitable organizations dedicated to raising awareness about men's health issues and they raise a substantial amount of money each year. While both organizations support the bold embracement of body hair and charitably support men's health, they are not one and the same, despite the common interchange of names.
If you feel as lost as I did, don't worry. I'm here to clear up any confusion about Movember versus No-Shave November, including how they both started, what causes they donate to and how you can become a bold, mustachioed participant (stick around for some mustache fun facts after all the important stuff).
Movember combines the words "moustache" -- spelled that way because a group of Australians started the whole thing -- and "November." What started as a fun experiment turned into a full-fledged charitable organization that supports various men's health initiatives, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and colon cancer research, mental health and suicide prevention, parenting and general health.
According to the official Movember website, Movember began in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003 when two friends met up for drinks and thought up the idea (However, a 1999 Seven Nightly News broadcast says otherwise, and the official Wikipedia page reports that the 1999 and 2003 groups were unrelated).
In any case, it's the two friends from Melbourne that created the legacy Movember is today. They recruited 28 other men in Australia who agreed to grow out their mustaches. At this point, there was no express intent to raise money for charities, but that quickly changed.
By 2006, Movember received official charity status from Australia and raised more than $8 million since its inception three years prior. The movement continued to grow, and by 2017, more than 5 million people from 21 countries officially participated and donated. The movement is still going strong, and even if the novelty of November mustaches seems to have worn off, the organization is still raising money for men's health. Globally, Movember has raised $994 million in 17 years.
No-Shave November is a similar but unrelated organization. Like Movember, No-Shave November raises awareness and money for men's health initiatives. However, while Movember supports a few different causes, No-Shave November focuses solely on cancer awareness and cancer prevention because Matthew Hill, the husband and father of the family that founded No-Shave November, died from colon cancer in 2007.
The Hill family founded the official No-Shave November organization in 2009 and has raised more than $10 million to date, according to the website. The goal of No-Shave November, the website reads, "is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free."
Some people participate in No-Shave November or Movember just for kicks and giggles, but many people take this monthlong commitment seriously. Both Movember and No-Shave November offer a way to spark conversation about the very dire health issues that affect men.
Participating in either Movember or No-Shave November is simple and easy.
If you want to fully participate in Movember, register to be counted among the millions that grow out their mustaches for a good cause. Then, you can choose how to participate:
To participate in No-Shave November, make an account and put down your razor. No-Shave November encourages participants to donate the money they'd normally spend on grooming supplies, such as razor blades and shaving cream, to one of the organization's funded programs.
Remember, people who participate in No-Shave November don't shave anything, letting any and all facial hair (and sometimes body hair) grow out. However, you're welcome to trim and groom if you have a strict dress code at work, the rules say. No-Shave November feels more inclusive for females, who may not have facial hair to put on display, but who can certainly grow out their leg and armpit hair.
No-Shave November is a bit more laissez-faire about the rules than Movember, which wants people to start the month completely clean-shaven and grow only a mustache.
I don't write about mustaches often. Actually, this is my first time writing about mustaches, unless you count the many texts to my mom and best friends about how I wish my fiance would shave his off (though my newfound knowledge encourages me to let it be, at least for the month of November).
To commemorate this first and hopefully offer you a chuckle and inspire you to share this article to continue raising awareness, I decided to research some fun mustache facts -- here goes.
1. The longest known mustache is 14 feet long and belongs to Ram Singh Chauhan, according to Guinness World Records. Chauhan began growing out his mustache in 1982 and was awarded the world record in 2010. I wonder how long it is now.
2. Facial hair is built-in sun protection. One study found that a beard can prevent a man's risk of UV damage to the skin underneath by up to a whopping 95%, depending on how thick the beard is.
3. There is such a thing as The World Beard and Moustache Championships. It's held every two years in locations all around the world.
4. American actor Burt Reynolds passed away in 2018, but a Facebook page dedicated to his legendary mustache still has more than 3,000 fans.
5. "Pogonotomy" sounds like a weird torture word, but it just means "the cutting of beards; shaving," according to Merriam-Webster. And it's something you can do on Dec. 1.
Happy Movember, everyone.