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.