Movember - Men With Moustaches do it Better

…and by ‘it’ of course I mean raise money and awareness for men’s health.

All hail Movember, the month of the moustache, when men grow their finest handlebar to raise awareness for prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. In Germany the campaign has been encouraging men to ‘mo up’ for men’s health for three years now. However, it was first organised unofficially by Australian born Ben Lancaster in 2011. “Coming from Australia it was second nature to do Movember, but when I came here I couldn’t find anywhere to do it. I had a marketing and events job at Belushi’s Bar in Mitte, so I got in touch with a friend of mine at Jameson’s and we decided to see what would happen if we tried to push for Movember in Berlin.”

In 2012 Movember had its official launch in Germany.  The month has expanded significantly since then with its presence doubling since the launch. Michael Fischer, Movember Country Manager for Germany, says the foundation is hoping to maintain this momentum. “Since the first official year we more than doubled our size in Germany and then doubled once again last year. We are hoping to get even more Mo Bro’s on board this year.”

The need to reach out to Mo Bro’s in Germany becomes glaring obvious when considering men’s health statistics here. One in two German men will develop cancer in the course of his lifetime. Prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in German men and testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged 25-45. Furthermore, the average life expectancy of German men is five years less than women, according to the Movember Foundation. Michael says that these statistics highlight the reality that is addressed throughout Movember. “A big part of the difference between men and women is not only because men don’t go to regular checkups but also because they don’t feel encouraged to talk about their health issues.”

However it is not just physical health that this event addresses. Movember has partnered with World Suicide Prevention Day to help combat and create awareness around the shocking male suicide rate. Adam Garone, Movember Foundation CEO, says addressing these issues is something to which the foundation is committed. “510,000 men die from suicide globally each year; that’s one every minute, yet it’s hidden in the shadows and shrouded in stigmas. It is our mission to make this a global priority.”

The proceeds raised during the month go into the Movember Foundations global fund to support vital research in an effort to reduce these confounding statistics. Raising money throughout the month can be done individually. However during Movember everyone who signs up is encouraged to unite with their friends, colleagues and community to rock the Mo together.

In Berlin the guys put on a range of events throughout the campaign to keep the fundraising momentum going and create a community for the participants.

“We have a shave down on the first of November at a couple of bars at the start of the month and it’s open to anyone who wants to come along,” says Ben.

After the initial shave down there are a range of other events throughout the month: including a Gentleman’s lunch, comedy evening and even a live tattooing night.

While it might seem like a bit of a boys club, girls are also encourage to get involved in the month. As Ben describes, “We have a Mo Sister award and that is really important. We always acknowledge the Mo Sisters that come out to events and raise money. As they say, ‘behind any great Mo Bro is a Mo Sister.’”
Remaining in contact and giving each other support throughout the campaign is a vital part of its success and it is why the guys urge people to register. “Registering is a big thing; it’s one of the most important things because whether or not they raise any money it means they are getting the message from Movember and they are aware of what is going on,” Ben said.

Ben Lancaster and the Berlin Bart Club at Belushi's Bar.

Registration for Movember is currently open and anyone can get involved via the official Movember Germany website. “They can register at any point in the month and the good thing is that even if someone registers very late and can’t be involved, we can reach out to them next year,” Ben said.

It is this sense of connectedness that allows Movember to transcend from an average fundraising campaign into a community that can be called upon long after the month is over. This is important, as a massive part of the event is to create awareness and open up the dialogue around men’s health.

“It is to break down the image that you have to be a tough guy all the times. There are some really heavy conversations that take place during the month. We always encourage people to take back the message to their work place or family and raise awareness about these issues,” Ben said.

All information about upcoming events in Berlin can be found on the ‘Berlin Mo Bro’s’ Facebook page and all events for wider Germany can be found on the official Movember Germany website.

So while that initial shave down can be a bit daunting, Ben assures participants that their sex appeal only grows with their moustache during the month. “I’d say it’s a 20-25% increase on how better looking you are with a moustache.”A recent survey from Mail Online agrees with him, citing that 80% of women say they find men with moustaches more attractive; with odds like that, there is really no excuse not to fully embrace the month of the ‘mo.

By Alice Dundon

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