Movember – Know Before you Grow

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In the last issue of SCAN, one of our lifestyle writers, Sarah Warsaw provided us with a handy how-to guide on jumping on the Movember bandwagon. Seemingly modeled after other awareness campaigns, it is inevitable to connect this movement to that of Evelyn Lauder’s brainchild of handing out pink ribbons in the name of raising awareness for breast cancer. The success of the campaign is indisputable, and the figures talk for themselves. However, there is a growing fear that men are now providing more lip service to their handlebars than the issue of Prostate-cancer awareness.

As positive as the campaigns message is, it seems like a lot of us forget to the take it with a pinch of salt. Has the campaign overshadowed the issue? Matthew Bishop, a leading philanthropist and writer for the Economist, has labeled Movember as a ‘slacktivist’ movement. As Scott Gillmore elaborates: :”the genius of Movember is how it perfectly harnesses the new trend for “slacktivism,” the support of a social cause with little or no effort. Think, for example, of the ubiquitous yellow LiveStrong bracelets. The moustache movement takes this slacktivism to a new low. Not only is no additional effort required, one actually does less, skipping the morning shave.”

However, Bowland’s international and Diversity officer thinks otherwise: “Every day we walk across campus we look at hundreds of faces and suddenly loads of people have a moustache? If you don’t know about Movember by then you will go and ask your friend about his moustache.”

Conversely, we also ought to consider those across the Atlantic for whom the screening, usually achieved through Prostrate-Specific antigen testing, is not available for free. This means big bucks for health companies. It might seem jaded, but does it not occur to some that the driving force for big companies to support this movement is the prospect of revenue? Sensitivity towards these implications will guide us to making informed decisions, lest we forget the emasculation associated with chemotherapy and hair loss in the midst of our grooming.

As well as this, Movember has become something of a cause célèbre, after an Australian tabloid accused it of spending disproportionately on campaign costs. We can’t know what goes on behind closed doors when celebrities agree to lobby such a campaign, but one can wonder why such high-profile personalities such as Stephen Fry, Justin Bieber and Jenson Button would immerse themselves on a topic so serious that turning it into a public relations novelty would be disrespectful to those who have been affected.

To reiterate such points is to verge on being cynical. This article merely serves as a warning to all of us who are possibly exhibiting sheep-like attitudes and go with the herd. Before you grow, be in the know. I dread to think how few participants (while making sure their online profile pages are updated daily) have actually researched the disease by simply visiting the NHS direct website – let alone got themselves and their mates to go to a screening.

Despite obvious connotations about ‘moustaches’, we must also notice that you simply cannot spell ‘Movember’ without the verb ‘Move’- a fitting root word for such a ‘move-ment’ which relies heavily on active participation. In denying facial hair its daily trim, there is a conscious decision to shift focus, albeit it being in a somewhat ‘slacktivist’ fashion.

Try not to dismiss anti-movember sentiments, as different perspectives are reminiscent of what the movement was all about in the first place. As I write, I vow to better my cause this year as opposed to my unconscientious Movember-madness in the last. May you do the same as you read (for in the end my ‘tash will probably be better than yours).

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