To the casual observer perusing through my Flickr-uploaded mustache photographs over the last two weeks, hardly an eyebrow would likely raise and few questions would be asked.
But to members of my family and numerous friends and acquaintances who saw me throughout the latter half of November, my hairy upper lip caused many questions. Why are you growing a mustache? Did you lose a bet? Ugh, I don't like it; can you shave it off?
The subject of three prior Huffington Post articles this month -- by Victoria Fine, Halle Tecco, and Shira Lazar -- when I began explaining I had grown a mustache to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, and that I was one of 255,000 men around the world participating in an annual charitable event called Movember (because the "Mo" is Australian for mustache, where the annual event began), the questions muted and my questioners lowered their eyebrows.
The month of November is nearly 48 hours away from expiration in my part of the world, and the majority of my Movember Brothers will shortly pull out the shavers and scissors and cut our whiskers away. (Confession: I shaved mine two nights ago.)
Living in the metropolitan Boston region, about 30 of us are informally connected through the so-called Team Boston, competing against other regions of the United States to see who can raise the most money all month. The donations will be divied between the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
"The mustache is the world's most effective awareness building tool for the prostate cancer movement," says Troy Kelley, chief digital officer for Arnold Worldwide and a member of Team Boston. "I was amazed that everywhere I went, people went out of their way to ask about my 'stache. It opened the door for me to unveil the inspirational story of the Movember movement. It just goes to show that the most effective marketing and fundraising ideas are usually the simplest."
Adam Zand, who goes by @NoOneYouKnow on Twitter, opted to participate for personal reasons. He writes, "I'm dedicating my Mo' efforts to Uncle Phil Zand of Northbrook, Illinois who died from cancer and to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch who will survive cancer."
Ditto for Skip Bensley of Brilliant Video Productions. "I participated because I lost my grandmother and mom to cancer; and since it hits so close to home, I try and support all initiatives that involve cancer research for men and women."
While most of Team Boston (and most Movember participants worldwide) are men, women are also opting to participate alongside their brethren. Rachel Levy says she got involved as a means "to support the Boston social media men, as they were gathering support for Movember and I thought I could help. Since I'm not able to grow a mustache like the men, I decided to photoshop a beard on my profile photo, and remove hair as I reached my goal of $300. Sadly, I'm still a bearded lady with only 2 days to go."
And therein lies the rub. Movember is not just about growing mustaches but also raising money for a cure. "While there have been inroads made, we still have a long way to go," says Bensley.
Cognizant the world faces an economic recession that is in the final chapters of recovery from, might you be willing to donate a dollar or two to our global cause?
Follow Ari Herzog on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ariherzog