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Over the years, I have had many curious students ask me questions about why I have a mustache. My answer has always been that my mustache is the conversation starter that gives me an opportunity to communicate with people about the important issues surrounding men’s health.

For the past 12 years I have taken part in fundraising for the Movember Foundation. This is an organization dedicated to addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men like: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. A unique way that “Mo Bros” get involved each year is by growing a mustache throughout the month of November to show their support for the cause. During my first year, it was this aspect of the campaign that drew me to it. A goofy mustache for the month seemed like a fun way to get involved. I was also fortunate enough to be surrounded by a number of friends and colleagues who also took part, which helped me to appreciate the experience that much more. They helped me to realize that it wasn’t really about the mustache. It was about the experience of getting to interact with others and learn about their experiences dealing with health issues. About creating a community of people who could support one another in times of need. This is ultimately the mission of Movember.

In the years since my first Movember, I’ve moved to three different countries and chose to start up or continue the campaign in each of these places as well. Over this time, I found myself getting more and more involved in the Movember cause. I have helped to organize information sessions for school communities, developed on-campus fundraising events and competitions, created annual off-campus sporting events to promote the cause and much more. I have even chosen to grow a beard or mustache for the other 11 months of the year! A childhood friend of mine recently shared that he can no longer picture me without a mustache.

I have come to learn so much about men’s health over these past years of participating in the campaign. It has helped me to realize that physical and mental issues, that could have been caught and treated, are overlooked far too often. This leads to realities like the fact that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. The campaign has helped me to realize that simple acts like asking about your family history can help a man be proactive about potential health risks. There are so many resources out there to address these, often treatable, issues. This raises the question, why are these issues still so prevalent?

Too often, men give into societal pressures. Men experience aspects of toxic masculinity in a variety of ways and, often, from a young age. For many, this creates a perceived expectation that limits their ability to communicate their needs. One of the goals of the Movember campaign is to overcome these obstacles in order to encourage men to speak up and seek support when needed. To pay attention to signs that their body gives them and seek treatment rather than shrug it off. To also be physically active in order to develop healthy habits.

I am so excited to continue the Movember campaign this year here at AAS. Throughout the next month, we will be sharing valuable information, creating interactive experiences and raising funds for the cause. If you would like to learn more about Movember, please visit the foundation website. If you would like to donate to our specific campaign, which has raised hundreds of dollars over the past two years, you can do so here. Have a happy and healthy Movember 2022!

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