“Movember” raises awareness for men’s health

by Maren Johnson

Staff Writer

As winter approaches, the gentlemen of Sewanee seem inspired by the weather to experiment with facial hair. This year was no different, and seemingly overnight a strange crop appeared across the Mountain. Suddenly, moustaches perched on familiar faces around campus. How did all these people decide to make such a drastic change at once? Initially, there was a strong reaction against the new look. “At first it was a big adjustment but I was okay with it since it was for a good cause. Now I’ve gotten used to it just in time for his beard to grow back,” says Ellie Fowler (C’17) of her boyfriend Riley Malone’s (C’17) “mo,” in the slang that Movember uses. There is no doubt that it is disorienting when the usual beard is replaced with a stich of fur across the upper lip.

But as the initial shock subsided, Movember suddenly began to make sense, especially as knowledge of it spread throughout campus. According to their website, Movember was founded in 2003 in Australia, and has since spread across the world. This campaign is using one of the most basic but simultaneously striking images to raise awareness for men’s health: the moustache. For a long time, the moustache has been the bedrock of the hipster look, but now it gets a fresh face with this charismatic campaign.

For this year’s community service, DKE decided to create a Movember campaign to highlights key issues of men’s health at Sewanee. From the beginning, people across campus got involved in this movement, and there is a Facebook group created by Ben Buster (C’17). Many lunch-goers may have seen the table ringed by mustached faces selling t-shirts, where $8 from every $20 shirt goes to the Movember foundation. These bros realize that even in the Sewanee bubble there are issues that need to be addressed. Though there seem to have been two flaws in the campaign this year, these can easily be fixed for even better results next time. The first is that the message on men’s mental health seems to get overshadowed by prostate and testicular cancer. Maybe it’s the concern men have for their bits and pieces.

Movember needs to make sure not to glaze over mental illness, which needs drastic improvement in awareness and acceptance. This emphasis won’t be easy to maintain, especially since Americans understand and sympathize with cancer, while mental illness is still stigmatized. The other flaw is the typical lack of resolve. Two weeks into the fundraiser, the beards had come back. While it’s cool to have a moustache for a little while, men miss their beards. And the mo goes right out the window. In the future, Movember on the mountain could be more effective if more fraternities participated in this fundraiser, if men’s mental health took the spotlight, and if more members committed to Movember as a month long effort to remind Sewanee of men’s health issues. “It wasn’t perfect but no first time doing something ever is,” said Fowler. But overall, this year can be counted as a success with the sale of around 50 shirts that should begin appearing in winter wardrobes soon. If DKE brings back Movember next year, it can only get better. By turning this campaign into a tradition, Sewanee can help raise awareness for some important and overlooked issues.