The Rise (and Fall) of Mustachactivsim

The Odds Are Good: If you’re gonna grow a mustache, grow a mustache.

Le Mustache. PHOTO: Movember logo

Le Mustache. PHOTO: Movember logo

First, I want to be clear about a couple of things. I like mustaches. A lot. And I don’t like cancer. But I am le tired of Movember.

I know plenty of people who have been affected by prostate cancer, and who are legitimately trying to use their nascent mustaches to raise money and awareness. I back those people. But, scumstasched dude in the lift line, do you really want to “change the face of men’s health,” or are you just looking for an excuse to grow absurd facial hair? Because, according to the Movember foundation, only 20 percent of guys involved in Movember actually get screened for prostate cancer. And in an unscientific study of my friends who are participating in Movember it looks like they’ve raised an average of $9 a piece. That’s only a penny for each of the 900 upper lip hairs the average man has.

Movember has polluted both the concept of fundraising and the integrity of a good mustache. And in the skiing world—maybe because we start out low on integrity and high on scraggly facial hair—it’s gotten really bad.


But I am a skier, you say, and it gets cold in the face region where I live. I am growing this mangy hair sliver because it keeps me warm. And also because I am a Good Person who does things for charity. You tell us that we’re just jealous because we can’t grow substantial facial hair, and there’s no ironic lady equivalent of Movember.

Those are fair arguments, but there are two separate points there. Point one: cancer sucks (true!). Point two: your dirt lip.

To get a little context, let’s look back at the roots of Movember. In 2003, two guys in Australia were lamenting the death of the mustache. None of their friends looked like Burt Reynolds. Or like my dad circa 1983. So they sent around an email chain to their friends (with the subject: Are you strong enough to be my man, no less) trying to convince them it would be hilarious to grow mustaches as a group, because they apparently weren’t confident to do it alone. Thirty of their friends got on board to grow a mustache, enough that so the next year they decided they should have a reason for looking like Rollie Fingers.

And they were dudes, so they figured dude cancer was a good thing to raise money for, and Movember, in all its pubestached glory, was born.

The author, her brother, and her Dad circa 1980-something, when mustaches were respectable. PHOTO: Heather Hansman

The author, her brother, and her Dad circa 1980-something, when mustaches were respectable. PHOTO: Heather Hansman

Maybe because I’ve spent too much time in the mountains, I like mustaches (note: this does not hold true for goatees, fu manchus, or that thing where you only grow a tiny triangle of hair on your chin. What is that, anyway?). But part of why the Tom Selleck is a good look is because it takes some confidence. If you’re doing it as part of a herd you don’t look ballsy, you look a lemming that forgot to wash its face.

Plus, the Movember technique of starting from zero and working your way through John Waters is the worst. Whatever happened to mustache March, when burly ski patrollers would grow beards all winter and then, as the days got longer and the snow got slushier, shave them into John Oates territory? That was seasonal, festive, and way more attractive. Bring that back, please.

If you want to raise money for cancer research you definitely should. Do that in spades. But if you’re using Movember as an excuse to look like a goggle-tanned Ron Burgundy, reconsider. If you want a mustache, have a damn mustache; don’t blame it on cancer. The attractive thing about non-standard facial hair is that it takes some self-confidence. Don’t hide behind a fundraiser if you’re not actually growing scraggly hairs for dollars. Claim it.

  Last time in The Odds Are Good: When Cody Townsend’s snow-covered pumpkin sparked a case of road rage.

Add a comment

  • Sluffleupagus

    Finally!!! Glad to see I am not alone in thinking Movember is stupid. November has long been held as No Shave November, leaving Dec-Feb with a beard and then the great Mustache March

    • Brad Nelson

      fuck you loser

  • Mike

    I think your just complaining and moaning about something that ultimately is doing a good cause. You reasons for putting it down suck; you’d prefer a different month, the reasons aren’t just, your fed up of seeing dirty upper lips or that people should grow alone… Your just being pretentious, At the end of the day it makes money for charity, so like it or shut up, simple. I’m not a huge fan of it myself but at least I have the decency to accept it and leave it to do its good. At the end of the day money for cancer research is money for cancer research – its fairly simple no? Surely instead of moaning about it online you could catch out these “friends” who aren’t raising any money for it and call them out for just being mugs, make them look like fools not the thing that is raising money for charity..

    • Doug Phillips

      I think you need to brush up on your reading skills.

    • Joshua Rashkin

      “your” = pronoun, possesive
      “you’re” = contraction (you + are), this one is what you should have used here.


    • Brad Nelson

      not to mention that anyone defending moustaches for moustaches sake…is well; a fucking loser…

  • Kim Kircher

    Great perspective Heather. By the way, that thing under the lower lip is a soul patch. But I’ve also heard it called a “niblick”, which boggles my mind, and wikipedia calls it a mouche.

    • Joshua Rashkin

      but the real name is “douche tag”

  • ryan


    • mick

      yeah we agree the author is a little bitch. Movember is now tradition and any tradition continues to evolve but ultimately still reminds of a crucial cause that is not going away. maybe you all should stop skiing or go back to snowboarding like you did or tried to so you won’t get hung up on this skiing vanity bullshit.

  • James

    Sorry to hear you are tired of Movember, I’m sure there are more people who are tired of Cancer and the devastating effect it has on themselves, friends and family. The point of starting from scratch and growing for the month is that for the most part your mustache looks scraggly and that’s what generates conversations, conversations about prostate/testicular cancer and men’s health issues. Globally, 3 million Movember participants have raised more than $446 million to date. All through the power of ‘dirt on your lip’ as you so eloquently put it. Perhaps if you used this forum to bring attention to your friends who are actually participating in Movember they may be able to raise a few more dollars, so that $9 average you mentioned could reach a level that would make you comfortable. Lastly, in the 70s and 80s everyone that could have a moustache had a moustache, so the guys of that era weren’t these confident men blazing their own facial hair trail.

  • Tarantula

    My grandpa had prostate cancer and Every year since I have been able to I have grown a moustache and raised over $150 and donated it all to prostate cancer.
    I dont think you understand that a symbol is needed to remind people to donate.
    Honestly if there was no Movember I probably wouldnt donate and encourage others to do so as well because I wouldnt be reminded to through the symbol that has changed the face of mens health.
    Even if those guys are growing dirt staches and blaming it on cancer I say let them, the symbol will remind others that it is time to donate.

  • Mr.Bishop

    I was a sad man when the fall of Moustache March happened, and yes there is a lemming mentality of just doing something that everyone else is doing….

    But this is a little pretentious no? I mean if people are giving it their best to do something to raise awareness for cancer what is the harm in that? I’m not about to go lambasting pink stuff for breast cancer because pink is too much of a stereotype for women.

    I get what you’re trying to do, but shoot for being less condescending next time.

  • JoJo

    I couldn’t agree more Heather. So many of the Movember mustache wearers are pretentious people that like to look like they are doing something good without actually doing anything at all. In reality very few of them do anything of substance for men’s health, except draw attention to themselves – which is exactly what they want. A more noble act is to give money or time without broadcasting it. In this case, they’re broadcasting their support without actually giving anything. It’s really irritating.

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