Me and my mustache

Movember Mustache Season

I just had the following piece published in Sharp magazine, Canada’s Magazine for Men. It’s a piece that has a little personal weight behind it.


I have something growing on my face. It’s a slow growth. Not painful mind you, mainly scratchy. And when having a discussion with someone, I can typically follow their eyes as they slowly pan south to my top lip, fixated. Occasionally I can pick up a hint of loathing in their reaction. It’s not their fault, though, it really isn’t a flattering addition to my mug.

I’m growing a mustache. Growing, trying to grow—same thing.

And, as I’ve been told, it’s not doing much for my face. But this, of course, isn’t the point of my lip caterpillar. (Yes, I have various handles for my mo ranging from catfish whiskers to The Ugly.) Like many a Canadian man in November, I’m growing a mustache at the expense of any beauty I once had for Movember.

The month formerly known as November has men growing poor renditions of Tom Selleck’s’ best-known feature to raise awareness and money for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer. A viscous cancer that I lost my beloved grandfather to just days after the World Trade Center towers crumbled. This is my leading raisin d’être for growing the lip critter.

In its short history, starting in 2004 in Australia, the Movember Foundation first launched events in Ireland, the U.S. and Canada in 2007. In this timeframe, Movember has raised $176 million worldwide for men’s health.

This year, Canada is the current global leader in money raised for growing and maintaining The Ugly. To date, Canadians have raised a stunning $21 million to the United Kingdom’s $12.5 million and the U.S.’s $7 million. (Canada raised a total of $22 million last year.) Worldwide this year, there are nearly 820,000 Movember participants; Canada makes up over a quarter of that number.

Evidently, we are a small population with big mo’s.

Last October, on a cool, sunny afternoon, I lost my brother to cancer. He was 32. It was a sudden departure after an abscess was discovered in his left leg in April. Before claiming his life, it claimed his leg—it having been amputated in hopes of quelling the cancer’s desire to spread. Nonetheless, it spread. It was painful to watch as one of my older brothers was claimed by cancer, as so many men are these days—young and old alike. (Some 25,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011.)

We, men—and as a 26-year-old, true, I’m hardly a man—aren’t always partial to discussing the goings-on of our bodies. The words “testicles” and “prostate” make us either wince or giggle, depending on our maturity at the time. But by growing a mustache, a land once outlawed by many a loving partner, we can inject some lightness into discussing men’s health. The lip caterpillar really is a great conversation starter, I must say. And at the expense of our faces versus the throes of cancer, I think we can all agree that a month of The Ugly is a small price to pay.

Join Ryan Bolton and his mustache at