Reflections on Movember
Kevin Noonan | Monday, November 25, 2013
“Kevin, what is that thing on your face?”
This bit of tough love from my older sister encapsulates pretty well my experience with Movember. The annual, month-long event of men growing out mustaches to raise awareness for prostate cancer, depression and other men’s health issues puts a good face on an otherwise ugly idea, so to speak.
While I fully support the cause, I was equally interested to see first if I could actually grow a mustache, since I’d never tried before for fear of death by public shaming. I also wanted to see if my fears of death by public shaming were legitimate.
As you might be able to guess from my sister’s reaction, it turns out the answer to both is “kind of.” I can kind of grow a mustache, ugly and deformed though it may be, and people that saw me with it on my face were opposed enough to the look that it was worthy of mention and embarrassment.
All six guys in my off-campus house decided to take part and turn it into a competition of sorts, and I was the last one to shave, meaning I was the winner ⎯ though also still kind of a loser, I’m pretty sure. All their reasons for shaving were similar ⎯ a job interview prompted the razor for a few of them, a girlfriend had had enough of it for at least one of them, stuff like that.
Luckily for me, a bright, shining star of joblessness and future unemployment, as well as a man married to my demanding job at the premier daily student newspaper run out of a dining hall on the south side of Notre Dame’s campus, neither of those possible pitfalls affected my mustache-growing capabilities.
I even got to have a little fun with it, starting my efforts in time to turn the ‘stache into a few Halloween costumes. There was the “scummy guy with his shirt unbuttoned with a mustache,” and the “business guy in a suit with a mustache giving out business advice” and my personal favorite: “guy in a moose costume with a mustache.”
But undoubtedly, my favorite thing about Movember was the reactions I got for my weak, wispy excuse for a mustache. I did my best not to call attention to it, so as only to get reactions from people that were genuine and unsolicited.
There was my sister, obviously. One of my favorite things about her is her willingness to say exactly what she thinks and, even when mocking me, to say it with love.
There was the random football player at Club Fever: “Hey dude, sick ‘stache.” To which I said, “Wait, really?” And he responded, “Well, you know, I respect the effort, at least.”
There was the random girl at Finny’s: “Ew,” but I’ve heard that before so I’m not sure how much the mustache played into it.
There was the random co-worker and assistant managing editor of The Observer who shall remain unnamed: “Your Elmo shirt is creepy, but the mustache just makes it worse.”
The final one was said to one of my friends but was too great not to include: “Hey man, that for Movember? I f*** with that. Much respect.”
The wide range of responses is to be expected because mustaches are, for most guys, an aggressively bad decision. And when you make an aggressively bad decision, and you put it on your face, people are going to notice and say something. No matter what the response, it always gives the opportunity to talk about the cause part of Movember, explaining that, for example, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in men but can be prevented with early diagnosis.
With the month of November coming to an end over Thanksgiving break, most of the mustaches on campus will likely be gone when we come back next Monday. This means that you only have a few more days left to (light-heartedly) make fun of any of your friends with bad facial hair. Calling attention to the bad mustaches calls attention to the cause, which is the point in the first place.
But come Monday, if they still have a trash ‘stache, the time to make fun is over, and you may want to consider an intervention of some kind.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.