Getting an Irishman to talk about his county team isn’t usually difficult, but getting him to discuss his physical or emotional health is often a steeper challenge.
In recent years women’s health initiatives have had spectacular global success fundraising for breast cancer research and other issues, but to date there hasn’t been an equivalent campaign geared towards men’s health.
Until the Movember movement, that is.
Movember is an annual event where men grow moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and other male cancers. The goal is nothing less than to change the face of men’s health.
“I could never see myself running a marathon, but this is the one thing I know I can do – I can grow a mustache for charity and to raise awareness,” says Tadhg Ennis, a Dubliner who works at Dorian Gray Tap and Grill on East 4th Street in the East Village.
“What you do is on the first of November you shave your face clean and then for the rest of the month you don’t shave above your upper lip. You grow a mustache and people usually like to comment on it. In the conversations that follow it’s a way of getting the message out about men’s cancer research.”
By encouraging men to get involved as participants, Movember hopes to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and treatments and ultimately to reduce the number of preventable deaths.
“You see so much stuff for women like the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer, but you don’t see men’s initiatives out in the mainstream as much,” says Ennis.
“Especially here in the U.S. a lot of people don’t know about Movember, they don’t know what it is. In Ireland it’s already a massive success.
“For the last two years we’ve raised the highest amounts in Europe after the U.K. Even though the country is in an economic crisis we raised over €3 million last year. It’s crazy that a country that doesn’t have any money at all is still willing to give a couple of euro to charity for a mustache.”
Ennis is part of his bar’s own team called the Dorian Gray Savages (feel free to join them, give them a tip or attend their celebration party at the end of the month – check their Facebook page for the time and date).
“You can go online and donate there or come into the bar and donate to our team. The owner, the manager, the two bartenders and the five members of staff and quite a few of our customers are already participating,” says Ennis.
Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of their family history of cancer and to take steps adopt a healthier lifestyle. It’s a message that deserves a wider audience.
“A lot of people don’t know about it here yet. If I see someone with a really horrific mustache I’ll say ‘Ah, are you doing Movember then?’ And usually they say no, they’re just hipsters. That’s happened quite a lot. So I’m trying to promote it!”
To sign up, donate or get involved visit us.movember.com.