As far as lifestyle changes go, committing to a mustache is not huge. But Mark Hedstrom hopes that it can grow — pun intended — into something major.
Hedstrom heads up the U.S. Movember campaign, which began in Australia 11 years ago over a conversation about fashion trends between two friends who “challenged each other to grow mustaches and were quite surprised by the conversations that they started.” Movember now spans 21 countries and has raised $550 million for men’s health initiatives, focusing on three main issues:
- Prostate cancer:The second most common cancer in men, with 220,000 new cases each year in the U.S. and 32,000 deaths.
- Testicular cancer:“[It] is highly survivable if caught early, but the challenge is there is still about 500 to 600 men in the U.S. who die from the disease each year, and we think that last-mile type issue of getting that number to zero is critically important.”
- Mental health:This year’s campaign emphasizes managing psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and stress.
Though it never resurfaced after the early ’90s in pop culture, facial hair has been on the rise as a niche fashion trend in recent years, with Brooklyn’s hipsters forging the path to redeeming the often sketchy reputation of beards and mustaches. Though they sport facial hair year-round, Hedstrom says they actually embody this year’s Movember campaign. “The theme this year is ‘Made in Movember,’ this idea of acting in a local environment but thinking globally. So when you look at these guys in Brooklyn and Seattle who have beards, mustaches, facial hair, it all comes from this idea of reconnecting with the community.”
Ladies, whether wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers, can get involved as Mo Sistas. After all, they’re usually the ones making a difference in men’s health. “Oftentimes, women are the ones who are much more comfortable talking about both physical and mental health issues,” such as family history of cancer and mental health problems, he said.
Hedstrom, 41, is still honing his game plan for this year’s Movember. He typically doesn’t have facial hair, which his wife prefers, but for one month they become Team ’Stache.
“She helps me pick out my mustache,” he said. They also collaborate on a costume (the Mario Brothers made an appearance one year) for Movember’s gala at the end of the month. “For me, Day 28 is when it starts looking good.”
To participate, register at Movember and create a fundraising page, then share it with friends and family. The website also has more information about men’s health to share when someone asks about your ‘stache.