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Movember’ promotes men’s health with facial hair

Tori Roeck | Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Student body president Alex Coccia may have the most iconic facial hair on campus, but he will blend in more this month as students participating in Movember don moustaches and beards to raise awareness of men’s health issues.

 Senior Steve Fox said the Movember campaign charges men to not shave for the month of November to encourage conversation about men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer and depression to de-stigmatize these diseases.

“Why do you grow moustaches to tell people that being depressed is ok? Because it’s funny and it’s awesome and it turns the idea on its head,” Fox said. “There isn’t a stigma about mental health unless we give it a stigma, and the only way you change that is to be willing to talk about that.

“So why don’t you wear on your face for one month out of the year [a sign] that [you] stand in solidarity with people who suffer from these issues?”

Fox said the Movember campaign began in 2003 when a group of friends in Australia challenged each other to a facial hair competition then decided to give it a message. The cause has since spread worldwide and is especially prevalent on U.S. college campuses because younger men are more likely to struggle with diseases like testicular cancer, he said.

“Something that we’ve definitely been recognizing and we think why [the Movember campaign] wanted to move on and expand to talking about more holistic men’s health is that there are a lot of things that guys don’t like talking about because we just tie it up to being macho,” he said. “One of the biggest things that guys or gals don’t like talking about is mental health.”

Coccia said student government wanted to support bringing the Movember campaign to Notre Dame because of its important message.

“Personally I was very excited because facial hair in general is something that’s important to me, and I think it should be very well-respected on campus,” he said. “But I had known about competitions like this that had been done on a much smaller scale, and I think that Steve and Dom [Romeo] had brought a lot of passion to it to show that this could be something that the whole campus was involved with.”

Men Against Violence, Notre Dame’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Circle K are also sponsoring Movember, and Fox said he is open to other organizations joining the cause as well.

Senior Dominic Romeo said he encourages individuals to get involved, as some of his friends already have.

“One of the things that my roommate came up with is on Halloween night, he dressed up as a mouse and another one of our friends dressed up as a stash (he dressed up like Mario and had a big bucket on his stomach with a big stash of Monopoly money in the middle of it), and they went around the dorms and asked for donations or they also had a sign-up sheet where people committed,” he said.

Girls can also support the cause by donating to their friends’ teams or organizing their own fundraiser, Fox said. Of the money raised through the Movember campaign, 85 percent goes right to the cause, and 40 percent of that money goes to the Livestrong Foundation while the rest goes to the Movember Foundation.

Fox said students can start their own teams by going to www.us.movember.com, registering their team and joining the Notre Dame network titled “Notre Dame Movember.”

Coccia said the teams that raise the most money will win special prizes, and the grand prize is dinner served by Fox, Romeo and Coccia.

“It would be a very classy affair for the winning team,” Coccia said.

Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]